political. As the Palestinian Au-
thority begins the massive job of
issuing its own identity cards, for
example, Mr. Zakout cites the
matter of getting statistics in or-
"The Israelis have population
statistics for three years: 1967,
1981, and 1988," he explains, "but
they have given us only the 1988
figure." The reason, he believes,
is to stall progress on yet anoth-
er sensitive issue: the return of
various "displaced Palestinians."
"Without the 1967 figures, it
will be difficult for us to calculate
the number of people who left the
travel south from Gaza Town,
we're stopped at both Palestinian
and Israeli roadblocks by the set-
tlements," Mr. Jiab continues, an-
"We're still subject to humili-
ating checks by the Israeli army,
but now they take place on our
Such bitterness is not directed
at the Israelis alone. In the ab-
sence of an authoritative Pales-
tinian regime, the only authority
around — the Palestinian Police
— has begun creeping into the
vacuum and dabbling in civilian
Police Chief Nasser
Yusuf, for example,
Gaza's Mayor Man-
sour a-Shawa to put a
stop to the political in-
fighting that has
blocked the creation of
a City Council and to
establish a board of
with. His motive may
have been appreciat-
ed by the city's resi-
dents, but the style
and source of the
to many Palestinians
— especially as police
officers have likewise
into civil affairs in
Riad al-Malki, a
spokesman in the
A Palestinian boy and an Israeli soldier shake hands
West Bank, has even
suggested that Yassir
territories in that year and, ac- Arafat wants to create two par-
cording to the [Declaration of allel administrations — one civ-
Principles], have the right to re- il, one military (and far more
turn," says Mr. Zakout. "And reliable, from his standpoint) —
without the 1981 figures, we in order to play them against
won't be able to calculate the each other and heighten his own
number of workers, profession- "remote control" over the Auton-
als, and students who 'lost their omy.
status' because they remained
While not endorsing that view,
outside the country for more than Mr. Zakout, too, is critical of the
diffidence, delays, and their con-
In short, officials complain that sequences. "The Palestinian Au-
Israel is giving out mixed signals thority should have been
on its attitude toward autonomy, established right after the sign-
saying one thing and doing an- ing in Cairo," he says, "to show
other. And while not privy to the people that there's been a
these details, the man in the firm decision for change."
street is slowly coming to the
In the absence of a defined ad-
same conclusion — if only be- ministration, he fears, "the win-
cause rather than making life ner will be not the Palestinian
better, the new system often opponents of the autonomy agree-
makes it worse by doubling the ment but Israel, which is trying
to convince us that we can't do
"If I wanted to go into Israel without it."
before, I had to apply to the Civ-
In the weeks to come, Chair-
il Administration," explains man Arafat's visit to Gaza and
Ghazi Abu Jiab, a leading Jericho, where he is expected fi-
spokesman of the Popular Front nally to inaugurate the Palestin-
in Gaza. "Now I have to apply to ian Authority, are expected to
the Palestinian Authority, which boost to the mood in these parts.
in turn applies to the Israeli au- But once the extravaganza is
thorities, so that it takes twice as over, the Palestinians know that
long to get an answer — which they'll have to get back to the try-
will probably still be 'no."
ing task of proving to the world,
Even inside the autonomous and above all to themselves, that
area, Palestinians must overcome Israel — on this score, at least —
double hurdles. "If we want to is absolutely wrong. L. 1
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