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June 06, 2003 - Image 17

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-06-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Little Optimism

While a tense quiet reigned in Ramallah, riots
took place in Nablus, with youths throwing stones
and improvised explosives at Israeli soldiers.

Palestinians aren't buoyed by summit talks.

In the Gaza Strip, hundreds of Hamas supporters
demonstrated against this week's summits. "The
purpose of this summit is to guarantee American
hegemony in the region," said Hamas spiritual
leader Sheik Ahmad Yassin, who attended one
demonstration.
The only ray of light, as far as the Palestinians
were concerned, was the release Tuesday of some
100 prisoners, among them Ahmad Jabara, who had
served 27 years in prison for placing a booby-
trapped refrigerator in Jerusalem, killing 14 Israelis
and wounding dozens. Jabara, 68, was the longest
serving Palestinian prisoner.
Abbas specifically had requested his release and
Sharon had consented, though Jabara fell into the
category of prisoners "with blood on their hands"
whom Israel has been refusing to free. As Jabara
headed toward Ramallah for a personal welcome
from Arafat, the cab drivers stuck on the road to
Hizmeh suddenly turned on their cars and sped
away over the hilly terrain, taking advantage of the
fact that the army patrol was no longer there —
even though the soldiers had kept the keys.
Only one driver was left behind.
"I forgot to carry a spare key," he explained. fl

GIL SEDAN
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Ramallah, West Bank

alestinians in the West Bank hardly
seemed optimistic about the prospects for
peace this week. On the road between
Ramallah and the West Bank village of
Hizmeh on June 3, several yellow cabs were parked,
unable to move: Israeli soldiers had confiscated the
keys in an effort to control Palestinian movement in
the region.
A curfew was clamped on Ramallah following intel-
ligence reports that terrorists were on their way to hit
Jerusalem. The drivers were not allowed either to con-
tinue to their destinations or return to Ramallah.
"Damned be both Sharon and Abu Mazen," cried
one driver, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon and his counterpart in the Palestinian
Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. "They are the real ter-
rorists. If it had not been for them, everything
would have been much better."
As the driver was talking, long lines of Palestinians

El

Gaza Protest

made their way on foot to their homes. Ordinary
Palestinians in the West Bank didn't see the summits
making a difference.
"Sharon cannot change his coat," said Khamis
Abu Ramila, a member of the citizens committee in
the village of Kfar Aqab. "He has spent the greater
part of his life building settlements; do you really
believe that he will be able to tear to pieces his life
project? That would mean admitting that he has
erred throughout his life."
Indeed, distrust was more prevalent than hope. Due
to the curfew, Ramallah seemed deserted, its streets
empty and shops closed. Here and there, youths ignit-
ed tires and improvised road blocks, throwing stones
at the few Israeli military vehicles passing by.
Only for a brief while did the city awaken, as a
motorcade passed from the southern checkpost to
P.A. President Yasser Arafat's headquarters in the
heart of the city. The motorcade was carrying the
eldest Palestinian security prisoner, released by Israel
on Tuesday in a goodwill gesture toward the
Palestinians and Americans — one that seemed to
earn Israel little good will.

Bush's Mideast Timeline

Washington/JTA — Since June 24, 2002,
when he made a landmark speech, U.S.
President George W Bush has become
increasingly involved in the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict. Those efforts peaked
June 4 when he met with Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian
Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.
The following is a timeline of U.S.
engagement in the last year:
Bush calls on the
• June 24, 2002
Palestinians to elect new leaders, eradi-
cate terrorism and create institutional
reforms, with the vision of a Palestinian
state by 2005. In the speech, Bush also
calls for Israel to withdraw to its
September 2000 borders and to end its
settlement activity as progress is made
toward security.
Bush chooses
• Sept. 30, 2002
to not honor congressional provisions
that recognize Jerusalem as Israel's cap-
ital. He argues that it would interfere
with the president's authority to for-
mulate foreign policy.
Drafts of the
• October 2002
road map for Israeli-Palestinian peace,
crafted by the Quartet — the United
States, the European Union, the
United Nations and Russia — are







leaked to the media. The plan calls for
a three-staged approach to peace, lead-
ing to an interim Palestinian state after
elections in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip, and the creation of a permanent
state at the end of the road. Israelis
argue that progress on the road map is
based on a timeline, rather than meas-
uring compliance with the plan.
William Burns,
• October 2002
the U.S. assistant secretary of state for
Near Eastern affairs, travels to the
Middle East. Israeli leaders complain
that the road map does not make spe-
cific demands on the Palestinians to
prevent terror before Israel withdraws
to the lines that existed before the
Palestinian intifada began in
September 2000.
Bush and
• Oct. 16, 2002
Sharon meet in Washington. Sharon
agrees to release $400 million in
Palestinian tax revenue that had been
frozen, and Bush gives Sharon a draft
version of the road map. The two
leaders also work to coordinate the
right to retaliate if attacked by Iraq.
Elliott Abrams
• December 2002
is named the senior director for Near
East and South Asian affairs at the







National Security Council. Abrams is a
key ally to many American Jewish lead-
ers and becomes a key liaison among
the White House, Israel and the Jewish
community on Middle East matters.
Leaders of the
• Dec. 20, 2002
Quartet meet at the White House, but
do not officially unveil the road map.
Sharon had argued that presentation
of the peace plan would interfere with
his re-election campaign, and Bush
acquiesces. Sharon is re-elected a
month later.
In a speech
• Feb. 26, 2003
enunciating his rationale for war
against Iraq, Bush says a change in
regime in Iraq would create an open-
ing for movement on the Israeli-
Palestinian front by ridding
Palestinian terrorists of a major source
of funding.
Abbas is
• March 10, 2003
appointed the first Palestinian prime
minister. It will take him more than a
month to create a cabinet.
A U.S. - led
• March 19, 2003
war against Iraq commences. It will
officially end May 1.
The road map is
• April 30, 2003
officially delivered to Sharon and Abbas.











• May 17, 2003 — Sharon and Abbas
meet face to face for the first time.
Sharon cancels a
• May 18, 2003
planned trip to Washington and a
meeting with Bush after a bus bomb-
ing in Jerusalem kills seven people and
wounds 20.
After White
• May 23, 2003
House officials acknowledge Israel's
concerns about the road map in a
statement, Sharon officially accepts it.
Two days later, the Israeli Cabinet
approves the plan as well.
Bush meets with
• June 3, 2003
Arab leaders in Egypt. He says Israel
"must deal with the settlements" and
make sure there is a contiguous
Palestinian state. Arab leaders endorse
the road map and agree to crack down
on terrorism and its sources of funding.
Bush meets in
• June 4, 2003
Aqaba, Jordan, with Sharon, Abbas and
Jordan's King Abdullah. Abbas calls for
an end to the Palestinian "armed intifa-
da' and Sharon says that he under-
stands the Palestinians' need for "territo-
rial continuity" in the West Bank. Bush
names John Wolf as a new Middle East
envoy, charged with monitoring imple-
mentation of the road map. Fl









6/ 6
2003

17

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