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Deal splits Palestinians.

Peace in our time between Palestine and Israel? Pragmatic thinking and a new world order seem to have set the stage for what has literally been unthinkable for the past 40 years -- peace between the Arabs and the Jews.

Not a state, but the next best thing for now -- self rule for the Palestinians, was the deal struck between the PLO and Israel. Known to the world as the Gaza-Jericho plan, the deal is the first in a series of a new political arrangement between Palestinians and Israelis.

The broad outline deals with the establishments of a five year interim period of Palestinian self rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, beginning with the town of Jericho and the Gaza Strip. Israeli military would withdraw from population centres and Pales would elect governing councils.

The agreement delayed negotiations on pulsating issues for both sides such as the fate of the 120,000 Israeli settlers on Arab lands and who would control Jerusalem, half of which is illegally held by Israel. And, while the borders of the Gaza Strip are clear -- the borders of the areas of Jericho to be ruled by Palestinians is still vague. The area in question goes anywhere from 40 square kilometres to 395 square kilometres. Some 19 Israeli settlements are in Jericho -- what will happen to them?

The two regions are referred to in the agreement as a single territorial unit -- but no corridor is provided between the two. Additionally, until now all residents of Gaza have had Israeli ID cards and many have Jordanian passports or refugee Ids. Once the area is under Palestinian administration what kind of identification papers will the Palestinians hold -- Palestinian passports? With no airport in the West Bank or Gaza will the Palestinians have to build their own airport or will they travel via Tel Aviv or Amman? For many Palestinians in Jordan and the Occupied Territories news of the impending agreement came unexpectedly and the first reaction was disbelief. There is hardly a Palestinian alive who can remember a time when there was no war or conflict -- the only ones that can, were born two decades before 1936 when Arab-Jewish strife began to escalate.

The concept of peace and recognition of the Israeli state have still not sunk in. Even for those who have supported the concept of a two state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The agreement which would, the PLO leadership say, allow for the return of some 800,000, is not all-inclusive however, and many who will not be able to return at this stage are bitter.

It is mostly the middle class Palestinians inside and outside the Occupied Territories who are backing this deal. They are sick of conflict and have a similar mentality to that of Yasser Arafat.

"Take what you can now and deal with the rest when you get there." This group, with its' lower and upper echelons represents the majority of Palestinians. A survey taken in the Occupied Territories clearly showed that Palestinians backed the plan.

The overall rating was 52.8 per cent with the Jericho and Gaza area scoring an approval rate of 75 per cent and 70 per cent respectively.

Business circles are also in favour of the plan believing this will give them a chance to gain influence in the largely partisan Occupied Territories.

Three political parties are in favour of the plan while eleven Palestinian parties are against. The great opposition is likely to come from the 2.5m Palestine refugees, more than half a million of whom live in Syria and Lebanon. Their plight has not been touched by the agreement. They feel disowned and betrayed. They repeatedly denounce Yasser Arafat as a traitor and an agent of Israel.

Yet, the largest demonstration held in Jordan or the Occupied Territories drew only 2,000 people -- hardly a massive turn-out for a nation numbering six million. The demonstrators petitioned for a return to the 1948 boundaries -- a demand echoed by the 11 parties who have said they oppose the treaty on all fronts.

Despite anti-agreement rallies, demonstrations and death threats against Yasser Arafat there appears to be an air of listless consigned consent among the opposition. Only calls of Jihad, especially by Hamas, were alternatives that were being forwarded by the opposition.

In meetings of the Damascus Ten, the coalition of the main opposition groups, no real alternative to the current situation was proposed. Although Abbas Zaki, head of the PLO Intifada committee vowed that the Intifada would continue regardless of any agreement.

If the Palestinians were shocked by the news of a deal then the Israelis were equally astonished at the news of impending peace with the life long enemy. The two rival Labour politicians who made the whole thing possible, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Perez both knew they were taking great risks.

But the risk of not achieving peace was greater for both men as well as the political party that was returned to power on the promise of bringing peace to the region within 12 months of its victory at the polls.

Israeli liberals, for years in the majority, have lost their political edge in recent years but still have the power to sway the majority in the Knesset. The pro-peace sector of the Israeli community is well aware of the long term economic benefits a peace in the region could mean for Israel.

They plan to use the economics-first argument or the "money means peace" argument to convince their opponents. This wing is predominantly secular in orientation.

However, not all Israeli politicians are for the deal. At a rally of about 150,000 Israeli opponents of the peace agreement, Ariel Sharon told supporters: "I never thought the day would come when I would utter the names of Rabin, Perez and Arafat in the same breath."

Likud party chief Bibi (Benjamin) Netanyahu called for a referendum on the deal which, he said, would only serve to give the PLO a launching pad to attack Israel.

Foreign Minister Shimon Perez's pleas that Israelis see the "greater picture" and be the "men of tomorrow, not the men of yesterday" fell on deaf ears among those that support the presence of the 120,000 Israeli settlers who are mostly religious fanatics who believe Arabs should be "transferred" from the Occupied Territories because God gave the holy land to the Jewish people.

The right wing is predominantly religious and, composed of a majority of oriental or sephardic Jews and American-Jewish settlers from the American east coast. A poll conducted for the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot showed that 53 per cent of the Jews in Israel favoured the plan while 45 per cent opposed it.

Countdown to peace

September 13: Declaration of Principles (DOP) signed in Washington.

October 13: DOP comes into force. Joint Israeli-Palestinian Liaison Committee formed to implement the DOP.

By December 13: Israel and Palestinians agree protocol on withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza Strip and Jericho. Israel immediately begins accelerated military withdrawal.

By April 13, 1994: Israel will complete military withdrawal from Gaza and Jericho. Israel immediately transfers powers to nominated Palestinian authority. Countdown of the five-year period of interim self-government towards a permanent settlement begins.

By July 13,1994: Palestinian elections, which are to be followed by inauguration of a Palestinian Council and the dissolution of Israeli military-run civil administration in the Occupied Territories.

By February 13, 1996: Israel and Pales commence negotiations on structure of a permanent settlement.

By February 13, 1999: Permanent settlement due to come into force.

Palestinians: Where they stand on the PLO peace deal

A list of Palestinian organisations and their positions on the Israeli PLO autonomy accord and the recognition of Israel.

FOR

Fatah. The largest single Palestinian movement, led by Yasser Arafat.

Democratic Palestinian Union. A breakaway faction of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine led by Arafat's spokesman Yasser Abod Rabbo.

Palestine People's Party, formerly the Palestine Communist Party, led by Suloiman Najjab.

AGAINST

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, led by Georges Habash. PFLP announced Friday that it was withdrawing from the PLO's Executive Committee.

Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, led by Nayef Hawatmeh, with-drew Friday from the PLO Executive Committee.

Palestinian Liberation Front, led by Mohammed Abbas.

Arab Liberation Front, led by Mahmut Ismail.

Popular Struggle Front, led by Samir Goshe.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine -- General Command, the leader, Ahmed Jebril, has threaten kill Yasser Arafat.

Saiqa, Syrian-backed group led by Islam Qadi. NON-PLO groups opposed

Hamas, Islamic Resistance Movement.

Islamic Jihad in Palestine.

Fatah-Intifada, breakaway from Fatah based in Damascus and led by Abu Musa Has called for Arafat to be killed. Source: AFP
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Title Annotation:peace agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis
Author:Shahin, Mariam
Publication:The Middle East
Date:Oct 1, 1993
Words:1455
Previous Article:The root of the problem.
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