Situation in the Middle East: the Israeli-Palestinian peace process

 

Doc. 7636

10 September 1996

 

REPORT[1]

Rapporteur: Mr DE PUIG, Spain, Socialist Group


Summary

            The Assembly reaffirms its support to the Middle East peace process and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in particular. It calls for respect of the 1995 Interim Agreement and for resumption of negotiations on permanent status. The Assembly  condemns acts of terrorism against Israel. While understanding its security concerns, Israel must continue the redeployment of its forces, including from Hebron. Both sides should pursue policies to enable borders to open up and remain open in future. In particular, freedom of movement of members of the Palestinian Council must be effectively guaranteed. Expansion of Jewish settlements would damage the prospect of progress and should thus be discontinued.

            The Assembly seeks to enhance Europe's contribution to the building of confidence between Israeli and Palestinian people. The Council of Europe could itself contribute in areas such as youth exchanges, human rights and democracy seminars, training of judges, lawyers etc., legislative assistance and local democracy.

            The Assembly resolves: (a) to pursue its confidence building efforts through meetings organised or sponsored by its committees in the above areas; (b) to press for action through the appropriate Council of Europe structures on proposals developed through these meetings; (c) to support the policy of the Israeli government for strengthening ties with Europe and to build up contacts with the Palestinian people and their elected representatives, as the peace process develops.

I. Draft resolution

1.         The Assembly re-affirms its support for the peace process in the Middle East, and recalls: 

i.          that the human, cultural and economic potential of the Middle East has for too long been ruined by useless conflict;

ii.          that these conflicts have continually threatened the stability and security of Europe;

iii.         that the Madrid Conference (1991) has given a durable Framework for bilateral and multilateral negotiations  -  bilateral: Israel/Jordan (leading to the 1994 peace treaty), Israel/Lebanon, Israel/Syria and Israel/Palestinian;  and multilateral on five issues critical to the future of the region: economic co-operation and development, environment, water, refugees, arms control and regional security;

iv.         that Israeli-Palestinian bilateral negotiations within this Framework are crucial to the success of the whole process;

v.         that in implementation of its Resolution 1013 (1993), five of its committees are contributing to the confidence-building process between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, and have now completed the first phase of their work.

2.         The Assembly further recalls that, in accordance with the Declaration of Principles signed in Washington on 13 September 1993, the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Washington, 28 September 1995) marked an important step towards the establishment of a Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority, for a transitional period of five years, with a view to a permanent settlement based on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338:

i.          the Agreement opened the way for elections on 20 January 1996 of the 88 members of the Palestinian Council and of the Ra'ees (President) of the Executive Authority of the Council.  These elections were internationally observed, including by a delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe;

ii.          henceforth, the Palestinian people have democratically-elected leaders and a democratic basis for the development of self-government institutions;

iii.         further to these elections and the elections held in Israel on 29 May 1996, a basis exists for negotiations on "permanent status" issues to be resumed.  These negotiations were opened on 5 May 1996, shortly following revision of the Palestinian Covenant.  The issues include Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders,  relations and co-operation with neighbouring countries.

3.         The Interim Agreement is a great achievement.  Both parties must fully respect and build upon the commitments which they have freely entered into under the Agreement.  

4.         The Assembly calls for the timetables of the Interim Agreement to be respected, and for negotiations to be resumed on "permanent status" issues.

5.         The Assembly vigorously condemns the acts of terrorism perpetrated against Israel which have left many victims and created a climate of indignation and anxiety among the Israeli population. While understanding the security concerns which weigh heavily upon it, the Israeli Government must continue to re-deploy its forces, in accordance with the agreements concluded, including withdrawal from the Hebron area. Such re-deployments must be based on an objective assessment of security concerns, and must take place  in the light of experience gained in co-operation with the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority.

6.         The Assembly appeals to the Palestinian Authority to stand firm against terrorism and expresses its conviction that winning the battle against terrorists will lead to the opening of borders and to free movement of persons and goods, will confer greater stability on the Palestinian Authority, and will pave the way for urgent and much-needed economic development.

7.         Border closures are gravely damaging - economically, psychologically and politically. They seriously weaken the trust of the Palestinian population in the benefits of the peace process, and they undermine the credit of the Palestinian Authority. Both sides should pursue policies for closures to be brought to an end and for borders to remain open in the future.

8.         Safe passage of persons and transportation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is essential.  In particular, there must be no restrictions on free movement of Members of the Palestinian Council.  The democratic basis and legitimacy of the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority must be fully respected.

9.         Expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian territories critically undermines the atmosphere required for constructive negotiations. It endangers the progress of the peace process. It should therefore be discontinued.

10.        The Assembly seeks to enhance Europe's contribution to the building of confidence between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, as well as to the improvement of the living conditions of the Palestinian people.  To this end, the Assembly notes, on the basis of the work of its five committees:

i.          general infra-structure improvement in the Palestinian territories is pursued on the "multilateral track" of the Madrid Framework.  European governments and the European Union are contributing within this Framework.  In example of the scale of the efforts required, per capita renewable supplies of water by the year 2025 will be five times less in the Middle East than they were in 1960.  Israel is committed under the Interim Agreement to ensuring increased water supplies in the Palestinian territories; 

ii.          the European Union has approved further financing for programmes to improve Palestinian municipal infra-structures and for private sector development;

iii.         through trade with Europe the Palestinian territories must be helped to reduce their economic dependence upon Israel.  Today, Israel accounts for over 85% of the territories' trade.  Wage remittances of Palestinians working in Israel account for 27% of the territories' gross national product;

iv.         the Council of Europe should contribute in the following areas:

            a. youth exchanges, the setting-up of Palestinian youth organisations in liaison with the European Youth Centres (Strasbourg and Budapest)  and with the youth programme of the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (North-South Centre), and promotion of co-operation between Palestinian and Israeli youth organisations;

            b. human rights education programmes;

            c. human rights and democracy seminars;

            d. advice on improvement of Palestinian educational infra-structures;

            e. advice to the Palestinian Council in the drafting of legislation and of a Draft Temporary Constitutional Law for the Transitional Period;

            f. the training of Palestinian judges, lawyers and law enforcement officers;

            g. preparation of the forthcoming Palestinian local elections;

            h. the setting-up of a Palestinian association of local authorities;

            i. trilateral arrangements for co-operation between Palestinian, European and Israeli local authorities;

            j. contacts and co-operation between the Palestinian authorities and representatives of civil society and their counterparts in Europe

11.        The Assembly resolves:

i.          to pursue its efforts to build confidence between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, through meetings on specific issues which are organised or sponsored by its committees in implementation of Resolution 1013 (1993) as in 1995 and 1996 through the various "task-forces";

ii.          to press for action through the appropriate structures of the Council of Europe on proposals which are developed through these meetings  -  the inter-governmental programme of the Committee of Ministers, the Congress of Regional and Local Authorities of Europe, the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (Lisbon), the European Commission for Democracy through Law and the European Youth Centres (Strasbourg and Budapest);

iii.         to support the policy of the new Israeli Government for strengthening ties with Europe, and to build up contacts and exchanges with the Palestinian people and their elected representatives, as the peace process develops with the full honouring of commitments by either side.

II. Explanatory memorandum

by the Rapporteur

Contents

I.          Introduction

II.        The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

A.        The peace agreements

            1.         The general Framework: the 1991 Madrid Conference

            2.         The 1993 Declaration of principles on interim self-government arrangements

            3.         The 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

B.         Recent developments

            1.         The period prior to Israeli elections of May 1996

            2.         The Israeli elections of May 1996: the new government's programme and reactions

C.         The current state of Israeli-Palestinian relations: main issues and position of the parties

            1.         Israeli security concerns and redeployment from Hebron

            2.         Israeli security concerns and border closure of the PA territories

            3.         Settlements

            4.         Other permanent status issues

III.       Democratic institution building in the Palestinian Authority territories

A.        The Palestinian self-rule institutions

            1.         The Palestinian Council in general

            2.         The Executive Authority and the Ra'ees

            3.         Relations between the self-rule and the PLO institutions

B.         The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in particular

            1.         Free movement of members of the PLC

            2.         The role and independence of the PLC

            3.         Legislative-Executive relations

            4.         The legislative process: the Basic Law

IV.       Conclusions

I. Introduction

1.         In its Recommendation 1221 (1993) on the peace process in the Middle East, adopted on 29 September 1993, the Assembly expressed its full support of the current peace process "as a means of resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict, on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973)" and urged member states to play a more active political role in encouraging all parties involved in this process to progress towards just and durable agreements.[2] In its Resolution 1013 (1993), adopted on the same day, the Assembly, referring to Recommendation 1221 (1993), reiterated its readiness "to contribute to building a climate of confidence between the parties engaged in this process". A series of measures were decided for this purpose, including the decisions to: invite Israeli and Arab personalities involved in the peace process to address the Assembly, as well as representatives and/or parliamentarians from all parties to the peace process to attend meetings it would organise on matters of interest to the Middle East countries; help with the organisation and monitor elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; organise in the Middle East a regional seminar on the functioning of democratic institutions etc.

2.         Some of these decisions have since been implemented: the late Israeli Prime Minister Rabin, the President of the Palestinian Authority Arafat et King Hussein of Jordan addressed the Assembly in the course of 1994-1995. On 24 November 1994, the Sub-Committee on the Middle East organised a hearing on "the implementation of Resolution 1013 and, in particular, on the prospects of elections in the Palestinian Authority territories", with the participation of Israeli and Palestinian representatives.[3]

3.         It was in this context and for the purpose of assuring representation of other committees concerned that the Bureau of the Assembly set-up, in May 1995, an ad hoc committee to organise, in co-operation with the Council of Europe's North-South Centre, a hearing on "the implementation of Resolution 1013 (1993): the Israeli-Palestinian Peace through Democracy". The theme, proposed by the Political Affairs Committee, showed that the Assembly, in implementing its Resolution 1013 (1993), would first focus on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as part, and crucial to the success, of the whole process in the Middle East region.

4.         The meeting was held in Rhodes, 9-11 July 1995, at the invitation of the Greek parliament. High-level Israeli and Palestinian delegations took part, including the former Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel, Mr Eli Dayan, and the Speaker of the Palestinian National Council, Mr Al-Za'Noon. The participants proposed the setting up by the respective Assembly committees of five  task forces to formulate specific proposals on the Council of Europe's contribution to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The task forces would be composed of parliamentarians, government representatives, experts of the Council of Europe's North-South Centre, Palestinian and Israeli representatives.

5.         The following themes were chosen for each task force : (a) economic development and reconstruction (Economic Affairs Committee); (b) local democracy (Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Democracy); (c) youth and education (Committee on Culture and Education); (d) human rights and, in particular, the judiciary and penitentiary systems (Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights); (e) building of democratic institutions (Political Affairs Committee).

6.         To implement the Rhodes' proposals, endorsed by the Assembly's Bureau, each of the five Committees concerned set up an ad hoc Sub-Committee to organise the meeting of the respective task force. The first four task forces subsequently met in Brussels on 15-16 November 1995, in Girona (Spain) on 5-6 February 1996, in Tunis on 9-11 February 1996 and in Paris on 4 March 1996 respectively. Moreover, an Ad Hoc Committee of the Bureau of the Assembly observed the Palestinian elections of 20 January 1996.

7.         With regard to the meeting of the ad hoc Sub-Committee of the Political Affairs Committee on the building of democratic institutions in the Palestinian Authority Territories, it was agreed to organise it after the Palestinian elections. In the Rhodes meeting, it was proposed by the Palestinian delegation to hold this meeting in Jericho. Following contacts with the Speaker of the Palestinian Council, it was finally proposed to hold the meeting in Ramallah, on 15-16 July 1996.

8.         At its meeting of 26 June 1996, the Sub-Committee on the Middle East took note of the difficulties met by the Israeli side to send a delegation to the meeting in Ramallah, at such an early stage following the Israeli elections of May 1996. However, the Israeli Authorities were willing to organise separate, bilateral contacts for the members of the ad hoc Sub-Committee (parliamentarians only) on 17 July 1996. The Rapporteur of the Sub-Committee was instructed to continue preparing the meeting pending the necessary confirmation by the Palestinian and Israeli side and, if necessary, to organise it in a restricted manner.

9.         In subsequent contacts, the Palestinian side confirmed its interest in organising the meeting in any suitable way, while the Israeli side confirmed that at this stage the formula of bilateral contacts to be organised for the ad hoc Sub-Committee was more convenient. No Israeli representatives would thus participate in the meeting in Ramallah.[4]

10.        Accordingly, separate meetings were organised for parliamentarians only, members of the ad hoc Sub-Committee, with the two sides, and not a task force meeting like those previously organised by the other ad hoc Sub-Committees. The programme of the meetings and the list of members of the ad hoc Sub-Committee appears in Appendix 3.

11.        The meetings enabled the members of the ad hoc Sub-Comittee and the Rapporteur to obtain first-hand information on the state of progress in the Israeli‑Palestinian relations in a crucial moment of the peace process shortly after a change of government in Israel. They also offered them the opportunity to gain a more exact idea of the key issues and the areas in which the Council of Europe could and should contribute. The presence of an Assembly delegation in the Palestinian Authority territories and Israel was as such a proof of its full commitment to the peace process and its readiness to contribute to the building of confidence between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

12.        The Rapporteur wishes to thank the Palestinian and Israeli authorities for organising most effectively the meetings of the ad hoc Sub-Committee, despite some technical difficulties and the short notice. He is also grateful to the offices of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in Jerusalem and Gaza for providing him with information for the purpose of drafting this report.

13.        The present report is limited at presenting the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as part of the general framework of peace process in the Middle East. It does not deal with the peace process in the whole of the Middle East region and in particular with Israel/Jordan, Israel/Lebanon and Israel/Syria negotiations. The Sub-Committee on the Middle East has already expressed its wish to visit, at a later stage, the whole region so that a new report on the overall peace process could be prepared.

14.        Moreover, the Rapporteur includes a section on the state of progress in the democratic institution building in the Palestinian Authority territories on the basis of the work of the ad hoc Sub-Committee which dealt with this item. The work carried out by the other task forces will be presented in their respective opinions. The Rapporteur has tried to include their conclusions in the text of the preliminary draft resolution. Finally, the situation of Palestinian refugees is not dealt with since a report on this issue is under preparation at present by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography [Rapporteur: Mr Atkinson (United Kingdom, EDG)].

II. The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

A.        The peace agreements

1.         The general Framework: the 1991 Madrid Conference

15.        At the beginning of the 90's, after a long process of international debates and important changes on the international stage, including the decrease of Soviet influence in world politics, chances for a resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict were improving as both Israel and its Arab neighbours seemed to be willing to take up negotiations.

16.        Since the decline of the Soviet Union, Syria strived for US goodwill. King Hussein of Jordan was interested in a solution to the Palestinian problem as his country was overcrowded with Palestinian refugees who had been forced to flee the Gulf states during the Gulf War because Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), openly supported Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Thus, the Palestinians found themselves in a desperate situation after the war and needed to improve their political reputation. Israel, under the influence of the "intifada", the Palestinian uprisings of the years 1987-1991 in which mainly young Palestinians fought the Israeli occupiers, recognized that the current situation was unacceptable and was prepared to negotiate, yet it would not accept as a negotiating party the PLO, which the Palestinians considered their only legitimate representative.

17.        On 30 October 1991, the first peace conference was held in Madrid. Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and a Jordanian-Palestinian delegation attended the conference and agreed on carrying out multilateral and bilateral talks in Washington, DC and Moscow on the basis of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) - calling for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories and the recognition of Israel by its Arab neighbours - and 338 (1973) - advocating negotiations to implement the foregoing resolution.

18.        The Madrid Conference offered a durable Framework for bilateral Israel/Jordan, Israel/Lebanon, Israel/Syria and Israel/Palestinian negotiations. Multilateral negotiations concerned five issues critical to the future of the Middle East region as a whole: economic co-operation and development, environment, water, refugees, arms control and regional security.[5]

19.        In the post-Madrid talks, little progress was made, as far as the Palestinian issue was concerned, since the PLO, considered by the Palestinians as their official and legitimate representative, was not involved in the negotiations. 

20.        On account of Yasser Arafat's affinity towards Iraq during the Gulf War, the influence of the PLO in Gaza and the West Bank had decreased. The prospect of a diplomatic breakthrough with Israel now appeared to be a way to restore its political primacy among the Palestinian population.

21.        Israel's foreign policy changed its course as a result of the defeat of the Likud party and the victory of the Labour party in the general elections held in 1992.  The appointment of Mr Rabin as Head of Government was interpreted as an expression of Israel's new will to expedite the peace process.

22.        Moreover, Israel realized that no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem was likely to be found without the PLO being involved in the negotiations. Furthermore, the PLO now seemed to be an alternative negotiating party to other Palestinian organisations such as Hamas, the newly emerged militant "Islamic Resistance Movement" whose activists had killed 13 Israeli citizens in March 1993.[6]

23.        In summer 1993, secret meetings between the Israeli government and the PLO were carried out in Oslo, Norway. An enormous diplomatic effort had been achieved following which the two parties finally agreed on a common basis to negotiate on: UN Security Council's Resolutions 242(1967) and 338(1973), providing for the Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and the taking up of a peace process "aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East".

2.         The 1993 Declaration of principles on interim self-government arrangements

24.        On 13 September 1993, the Israeli government, represented by its Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and its Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres, and Yasser Arafat as the leader of the PLO signed in Washington, DC the Declaration of principles on interim self-government arrangements (DOP) in Gaza and the West Bank. The DOP was to be implemented in four stages within an interim period of five years. As the preamble  emphasizes, Israel and the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people agreed that it was "time to put an end to decades of confrontation and conflict, recognize their mutual legitimate and political rights, and ... achieve a just and lasting peace settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed peace process".

25.        The first stage of the implementation of the DOP was the "Gaza-Jericho Agreement" signed in Cairo on 4 May 1994. Accordingly, the Israeli army ("Tsahal" or Israel Defense Force, IDF) withdrew its troops from the Gaza Strip and Jericho. Powers were transferred from the Israeli military government and Civil Administration to a Palestinian Authority whose members were appointed by the PLO.

26.        Further civil powers and responsibilities were transferred to the Palestinians in areas of the West Bank not affected by the "Gaza-Jericho Agreement" on 29 August 1994 and on 27 August 1995.

3.         The 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

27.        The third stage of the implementation of the DOP was the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement ("Interim Agreement"), signed in Washington, DC on 28 September 1995. The Interim Agreement provided for the extension of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip through the election of a self-governing Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Council (PC), and Ra'ees (President) of the Executive Authority of the Council.

28.        The Interim Agreement, a 300-page long text, is a great achievement in the history of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations providing the details for the creation of the first popularly-elected body for the Palestinians of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

29.        Apart from detailed arrangements for the election of the Palestinian Council, the Interim Agreement provided for the transfer of powers and responsibilities to the Council from the Israeli military government and its Civil Administration. The Interim Agreement also contains extensive security arrangements, including arrangements for the redeployment of Israeli military forces in the West Bank. In addition, the agreement regulates the relations between Israel and the Palestinian Council in legal and economic matters and establishes a framework for encouraging programmes of co-operation between the two sides.

30.        Thus, in accordance with the terms of the Interim Agreement, the redeployment of Israeli military forces from all areas of the West Bank not covered by the "Gaza-Jericho Agreement" and later agreements was arranged. In order to guarantee security in Israel as well as in the Palestinian territories, the Israeli army ("Tsahal") was not to withdraw entirely, but the West Bank was divided into three areas with different security arrangements.

31.        Area "A" comprised the major Palestinian cities (Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarem, Kalkilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron without the old city). There, the Palestinian Council would be granted full responsibility for internal security, public order and civil affairs.

32.        Area "B" comprised all the remaining Palestinian populated areas in the West Bank, ie. some 450 towns, villages and refugee camps. Security authority would be left to Israel so that it could prevent terrorism and protect its citizens. Civil matters and public order were in the competence of the Palestinian Council. A Palestinian police force with twenty five stations was to be established in order to fight terrorism within the territories and also to protect Palestinian civilians.

33.        Area "C" contained areas of the West Bank scarcely populated by Palestinians, including Israeli settlements and military bases where Israel was fully responsible for public order and security. The Palestinian Council was to deal with civil affairs spheres not related to territory. In addition, its relations to Israel in legal and economic matters were arranged.

34.        All matters arranged in the Interim Agreement were to be implemented within a period not to exceed five years from the signing of the "Gaza-Jericho Agreement". As the title of the Interim Agreement suggests, the decisions taken were not meant to be definitive.

35.        As a last step, negotiations on permanent status issues such as "Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders, relations and co-operation with other neighbours and other issues of common interest" were to begin two years after the implementation of the "Gaza-Jericho Agreement", i.e. on 4 May 1996, and to be implemented within the five year interim period (see below under B, 1, viii).

B.        Recent Developments

            1.         The period prior to Israeli elections of May 1996

            i. the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Rabin (4 November 1995)

36.        On 4 November 1995, a religious Israeli extremist killed Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin during a rally in support of the peace process in Tel Aviv. Some 100 000 people had attended the demonstration. The assassin, 25 year-old student Yigal Amir, claimed that he had executed an order of God since Rabin had to be considered as a traitor to the Jewish people. Amir was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Tel Aviv Court on 27 March 1996.

37.        Heads of state and representatives of numerous countries, inter alia Yasser Arafat, King Hussein of Jordan, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Bill Clinton of the United States of America, attended Yitzhak Rabin's funeral on 5 November 1995 in Jerusalem to offer their condolences to the victim's family and the state of Israel. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres was designed Prime Minister for a transitional period until general elections were to be held on 29 May.

            ii.          Palestinian elections (20 January 1996)

38.        As provided in the Declaration of Principles and the Interim Agreement, elections for a 88-member Palestinian Council[7]  and the post of Ra'ees (President) of the Executive Authority were held in Gaza and the West Bank on 20 January 1996.

39.        The elections were internationally observed. Following an invitation by President Arafat to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Bureau of the Assembly set up an ad hoc Committee which also observed the elections.  European Union coordinated the work of the various national and international observer delegations through its European Union Electoral Unit, headed  by Mr Carl Libdom, including the Assembly delegation.

40.        As underlined in the report of the Bureau's ad hoc committee [Rapporteur:

Mr Pavlidis, (Greece, EPP), Doc. 7560 Addendum I], the Palestinian elections were a fundamental step forward for the overall peace process in the region. Their importance is historic. The high turnout of Palestinian voters, including women, showed the commitment of the Palestinian people to democracy and the peace process. They elected their leaders with enthusiasm and impressive professionalism.

41.        Even more important, the elections allowed for Palestinian self-rule democratic institutions to be established in order to accomplish the subsequent steps provided by the peace agreements. They offered the required democratic legitimacy to the Palestinian leadership which could start the negotiations for the most difficult, unresolved issues on the permanent status.

            iii.         suicide-bombings in Israel (February-March 1996)

42.        Between 25 February and 4 March 1996, Palestinian Hamas terrorists killed 66 Israeli civilians in suicidal bomb-attacks on buses in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ashkelon. The spokesmen of the organisation claimed that the bombings were in revenge of the death of Yahia Ayyash, a Hamas bomb expert who had been assassinated in Gaza in January, presumably by the Israeli Secret Service.

43.        In order to avert further terror attacks, Israel closed its borders to Gaza and the West Bank. Thus, tens of thousands of Palestinian workers were prevented from getting to their place of work in Israel. The number of unemployed increased dramatically to 40% in the West Bank and 60% in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, the Palestinian population faced serious shortages in food supply and medical aid (see also below under C, 2).

44.        A vast majority of Palestinians disapproved of the Hamas bombings and supported the peace process. But even though they understood Israel's need for security, they felt the border closures were a collective punishment for the entire population of Gaza and the West Bank. On the other hand, Israeli public opinion seemed to turn against the government's peace policy since people felt constantly threatened by terrorism.

            iv.         the "Summit of the Peacemakers" in Sharm ash-Sheikh (13 March 1996)  

45.        As the whole peace process risked to be in danger, US-President Bill Clinton and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak called for a "Summit of the Peacemakers" in Sharm ash-Sheikh on 13 March 1996. Representatives of 29 nations, among others 13 Arab countries and Israel, attended the peace summit and in this way reaffirmed their support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

46.        The three principal objectives of the summit were "to enhance the peace process, to promote security and to combat terror", as the final declaration to the summit states. All acts of terrorism were to be condemned, and joint efforts to fight the terrorists were to be made. Furthermore, special attention had to be paid to the economic situation of the Palestinians.

47.        In spite of being invited, Syria and Lebanon boycotted the peace summit, for they believed it would only serve Israeli policies.

            v.         the first meeting of the Palestinian Council in Gaza (7 March 1996)

48.        On 7 March 1996, all 88 members of the Palestinian Council took part in the first session in Gaza. Saleem Al Za'noon, Chairman of the Palestinian National Council (PNC),[8] the elected representative body of all Palestinians in the occupied territories as well as in the diaspora, opened the session that was attended by guests from sixty foreign countries.

49.        After a solemn opening ceremony, supervisors and deputies of the session were appointed and Ahmed Qurei from Jerusalem was elected Speaker of the Council. In the speech he addressed to the assembly, the new Speaker praised the "beginning of a new era for the Palestinians with the transformation of a revolutionary movement to a constitutional democracy". In a speech following, the President of the Executive Authority of the Palestinian Council, Yasser Arafat, emphasised his determination to continue with the peace process. In the end of the session, a legal committee consisting of 14 PC members was created.

50.        This meeting was carried out despite the Israeli border closures of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip imposed after the bus-bombings of the previous days. It was thus rather difficult for the West Bank representatives to travel to Gaza. Yet all members were able to get there, however some had to be escorted by the Israeli army.

            vi.         revocation of the Palestinian Covenant (24 April 1996) and reactions

51.        As provided in the Interim Agreement, the Palestinian National Council (PNC) was to revoke the clauses in its charter that called for the destruction of the state of Israel within two months after the inauguration of the Palestinian Council.

52.        Hence, at the PNC meeting in Gaza on 24 April 1996, a vast majority of 504 PNC members voted in favour of the annulment of all passages hostile to Israel, whereas only 54 members voted against and 14 abstained. In Israel, the vote was seen as a "significant step towards peace", as Israeli officials affirmed.

53.        In response, Shimon Peres' Labour Party dropped its opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state at its convention the day after.

54.        Thereupon, both Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat were received by the United States President Bill Clinton in Washington, DC. The fact that Yasser Arafat was formally invited by USA President Bill Clinton on 1 May could be considered as an enormous diplomatic effort. Arafat, formerly denounced as a terrorist, was now accepted and highly estimated as the President of the Palestinians. Clinton praised Arafat for leading the PNC to revoke all clauses of the charter that denied Israel's existence. The two heads of state then decided to create a joint US-Palestinian committee to deal with economic affairs and security matters.

            vii.        escalation of violence along the Israeli-Lebanese border (March-April 1996) and Assembly's reaction (26 April 1996)

55.        On 4 March, Lebanese Hizbullah[9] terrorists killed four Israeli soldiers in the so-called "security zone" occupied by Israel in South Lebanon. In the days and weeks following, they repeatedly attacked Israeli soldiers in the zone. On 8 April, following the killing of a Lebanese boy by a bomb, Hizbullah fired Katyusha rockets into northern Israel, wounding 36 Israeli citizens.

56.        In response, Israel started its military operation called "Grapes of Wrath" against Hizbullah on 11 April.

57.        Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres declared Israel had no claim on Lebanese territory, but aimed at the total destruction of Hizbullah's military and political infrastructure.

58.        Israeli attacks caused the death of civilians, including many children. On 18 April, more than one hundred Lebanese civilians were killed when Israeli artillery hit a UN peacekeeping base in Cana, where they had sought refuge.

59.        Concerned about the escalation of violence along the Israeli-Lebanese border, which appeared as a serious threat to the whole peace process in the Middle East, the Assembly decided to hold a debate under urgent procedure.

60.        On 26 April 1996, in adopting Resolution 1088 (1996) on the threat to the peace process in the Middle East [Rapporteur: Mr de Puig (Spain, SOC), Doc. 7540], the Assembly held that, although Israel had the right to defend its people against terrorist attacks, its indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civil targets or their use as human shields could not be justified. It further strongly condemned Hizbullah's strategy of hiding ammunition and weapons behind civilians and civilian installations and expressed its strong support for diplomatic to reach an immediate cease-fire. The governments of Lebanon and Syria should disarm and control Hizbullah, following which Israel should be prepared to withdraw its forces from the "security zone" in Lebanon. The subsequent stationing of a multinational force along the Israeli-Lebanese border would meet Israeli and Lebanese security concerns and could be an important stabilising factor. The Assembly reiterated its commitment to a comprehensive peace process in the region, which would include Lebanon and Syria.

61.        Few hours after the Assembly debate, the governments of Israel and Lebanon eventually agreed on written understandings which called for an immediate cease-fire and the putting-up of a monitoring group to control the cease-fire. As no disarmament of Hizbullah was provided, Israel was granted its right for self-defence whenever attacked by the Shi'ite terrorists. However, civilians on both sides were to be protected.

            viii.       postponement of the negotiations on permanent status issues (5 May 1996)

62.        As said above, according to the DOP and the Interim Agreement timetable, Israel and the Palestinian leadership were to take up negotiations on permanent status issues not later than in the third year of the interim period, ie. not later than 4 May 1996.

63.        On their meeting in Taba (Egypt) on 5 May, the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed on postponing their negotiations since the forthcoming elections in Israel, scheduled for 29 May 1996, were bound to decide on further progress in the peace process.

2.         The Israeli elections of 29 May 1996: the new government's programme and reactions

64.        In the first days of June, Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud party, won the elections by a slight margin (50.3% against Peres' 49.7%) and became the first Israeli Prime Minister directly elected. The electoral result could be interpreted as proof that peace with the Palestinians, so welcomed by the rest of the world when it was launched in 1993, raised more fear than hope among a majority of people in Israel, in particular following the February-March 1996 Hamas attacks.

65.        On 18 June 1996, Mr Netanyahu formed a coalition government comprising: 32 Likud-Tsomet-Gesher seats; 10 seats of the SHAS party (religious right-wing party); 9 seats of the National Religious Party; 7 seats of the "Yisrael Ba-Aliya" party; 4 seats of the "Third Way" party and 4 seats of the "United Torah Judaism" party.

66.        In compliance with its pre-electoral campaign, the new Israeli government's policy guidelines set as a main goal "achieving peace with all neighbours, while safeguarding national and personal security".[10] Security is indeed the key issue and the main concern of the new government. The new government would continue the peace process while safeguarding Israel's vital interests.

67.        The government declared its readiness to "negotiate with the Palestinian Authority, with the intent of reaching a permanent arrangement, on the condition that the Palestinians fulfil all their commitments fully". The government made clear, however, that it would in any case, "oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state and 'the right of return' of Arab populations to any part of the Land of Israel west of the Jordan river".  Moreover, it was declared that "Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is one city, whole and undivided, and will remain forever under Israel's sovereignty".

68.        "Strengthening, broadening and developing settlement in Israel" is declared as a goal of governmental policy. Settlements in the territories occupied after the 1967 are considered to be "of national importance to Israel's defense and security". The government is set to "alter the settlement policy, act to consolidate and develop the settlement enterprise in these areas and allocate the resources necessary for this".

69.        Concerning relations with Syria, the new government announces that it will conduct negotiations with Syria "without pre-conditions". Nevertheless, it views the Golan Heights "as essential to the security of the state and its water resources. Retaining Israeli sovereignty over the Golan will be the basis for an arrangement with Syria".

70.        Furthermore, the new Israeli government appears to contest the principle "land for peace" which has been the basis for the peace process in the Middle East. This principle is considered to be implied in United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) - calling for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories and the recognition of Israel by its Arab neighbours - and 338 (1973) - advocating negotiations to implement the foregoing resolution. Acceptance by Israel of these two resolutions had been the condition upon which Arab states had agreed to participate in the 1991 Madrid conference which marked the framework of the Middle East peace process. Implementation of these two resolutions is, moreover, the ultimate goal of negotiations on the permanent status, according to the 1993 Declaration of Principles, agreed between Israel and the PLO.

71.        The new Israeli government, first, seems to contest that the "land for peace" principle was included in the results of the Madrid Conference.[11] Second, Mr Netanyahu has declared that Israel has its own interpretation of the foregoing resolutions. While the French text of Resolution 242 (1967), refers to withdrawal of Israeli armed forces "des territoires occupés" (that is "from the occupied territories"), the English text speaks about withdrawal "from occupied territories". Mr Netanyahu seems to rely on the English text to suggest that since Israeli army has already withdrawn from 90% of the territories it had concurred almost thirty years ago, no further withdrawals were dictated by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (1967). Moreover, the latter referred to "secure boundaries" which, in the new Israeli Prime Minister's view, justifies the security concerns of Israel.

72.        The guidelines of the new Israeli government policy caused the immediate reaction of the Arab states which called for a new unity between them. The Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mr Ahmed Qurei, called the new government policies "a declaration of war".

73.        Considering that the peace process was in danger, Egypt's Head of State, Hosni Mubarak called an Arab summit in Cairo, 21-23 June 1996.

74.        During the Cairo summit, a rare but strong unity between the Arab states was shown. They asked the new Israeli government to adhere to the already established principle of "land for peace"; to fully withdraw from the West Bank and the Golan Heights; to remove all Jewish settlements; to help give birth to a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as capital; to allow access to occupied territories by Palestinian refugees. While for the Arab states this was a strong message of caution, Mr Netanyahu called it a "diktat", dangerous to Israel's security.

75.        At the same time, the European Council (European Union), meeting in Florence, on 21-22 June 1996, issued a declaration on the Middle East Peace Process encouraging all parties to re-engage themselves in the peace process, to respect and fully implement all the agreements already reached and to resume negotiations as soon as possible on the basis of the principles already accepted by all parties under the Madrid and Oslo frameworks.  

76.        Throughout the month of July, the Israeli Prime Minister paid a series of visits to explain his new government's policy, first to the United States and then to Egypt and Jordan. President Clinton urged Arab states for patience, asking them to give the new Israeli government time. King Hussein and President Mubarak also adopted a rather conciliatory approach granting the new Israeli government a "grace period".

C.        The current state of Israeli-Palestinian relations: the main issues and position of the parties

77.        As was said above, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on permanent status issues, opened on 5 May 1996, had been postponed for after the Israeli elections. But upon his election the new Israeli Prime Minister refused to give any indication whatsoever on the date for the resumption of any high-level negotiations with the Palestinians.

78.        While meeting other Arab leaders, Mr Netanyahu had shown no willingness to meet the Palestinian leader, Mr Arafat, saying that he would consider such a meeting only if such a step proved necessary for the sake of Israel's security. Indeed, since his election, Mr Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that he would continue negotiations with the Palestinians only if they would fully respect the agreements, in particular the security clauses. He has, moreover, publicly accused the Palestinians of serious violations of these clauses.

79.        President Arafat and other Palestinian representatives, in their meetings with the ad hoc sub-committee in the territories in mid-July 1996, said that despite these repeated public accusations, the new Israeli Prime Minister had so far failed to clearly indicate which precise provisions of the agreements the Palestinian side had breached. Following the terrorist Hamas attacks of February-March 1996, the Palestinian police forces had made massive arrests of Hamas suspects cooperating with Israel in the security field.

80.        A meeting between President Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister, Mr Levy, on 24 July 1996, while it gave some hopes for a prospect of progress, did not lead to any substantial results. Mr Arafat, for his part, has paid several visits to the Arab states and addressed messages to the international community in order to obtain support and put pressure on Israel to resume negotiations.

81.        On 22 August 1996, Mr Netanyahu assured Egypt's President Mubarak that negotiations with the Palestinians would be resumed in the very near future, including through the steering committee, without suggesting a date. This move by the Israeli Prime Minister was probably a response to the signs of reluctance shown by President Mubarak earlier that day about the organisation of a Middle East economic conference, scheduled to be held in Cairo in November 1996. The Egyptian President saw no reason in hosting the conference since Middle East countries would not attend if the peace process remained stalled. The same day, talks were held in Tel Aviv between Mr Mahmoud Abas, senior PLO official, and Mr Dore Gold, Mr Netanyahu's political adviser, concerning the resumption of the steering committee talks.

82.        A meeting between President Arafat and Mr Peres, leader of the Israeli opposition, also took place on 22 August 1996. After the meeting, Mr Peres stated that he would do everything he could - as the head of the opposition - to support the peace process. He felt deeply obliged that every promise made on behalf of the previous government and Israeli people should be respected.

83.        On 25 August 1996, the President of Israel, Mr Ezen Weizman, in reply to a letter by Mr Arafat, said that he was ready to meet the Palestinian leader. Mr Netanyahu announced that he would also meet Mr Arafat in appropriate time, provided that such a meeting would be constructive. The new Israeli Prime Minister appeared thus, for the first time since his election, favourable to a meeting with the Palestinian leader.

84.        The Rapporteur realises that in the coming days and before the discussion of the present report at the Political Affairs Committee's meeting on 4 September, the picture may totally change since it is precisely an ongoing process that is at stake. He thus hopes that these recent events will lead to an early resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations which will keep the peace process alive.

85.        What follows is an account of the main issues which determine at present Israeli-Palestinian relations and which were raised by the representatives of both sides during the visit of the ad hoc Sub-Committee.

            1.         Israeli security concerns and redeployment from Hebron

86.        The Interim Agreement provided for a gradual redeployment of Israeli military forces from the West Bank areas to be effected in a number of stages. The first phase of redeployment, completed prior to the eve of the Palestinian elections, covered populated areas of the West Bank - cities, towns, refugee camps and hamlets - with the exception of the city of Hebron. With regard to the latter, special arrangements were provided for a partial[12] redeployment to be completed not later than six months after the signing of the Interim Agreement, that is 28 March 1996.

87.        The situation in Hebron is considered to be particularly tense as some 400 Israeli settlers and a majority of 100,000 Palestinians live there together. The settlers are against the pull-out of the Israeli army and claim that the city should stay under Israeli control, whereas the Palestinians long for self-determination and the end of Israeli occupation.

88.        Following the suicide-attacks of February-March 1996 and the increase number of clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinian inhabitants and in order to provide for the security of its citizens and to gain their goodwill, the Israeli government decided to put off the withdrawal until after the elections of 29 May 1996.

89.        The new Israeli government while assuring that it would respect the Oslo Agreements, emphasised the complicated security needs of Hebron, the only Palestinian city with Jewish settlers living in it.

90.        When meeting the ad hoc Sub-Committee, on 17 July 1996, Mr Hanegbi, member of the Israeli government, informed the delegation that a new agreement on Hebron was to be expected in one or two months.

91.        Mr Peres, for his part, confirmed that redeployment from Hebron should have already taken place by the beginning of June 1996, after the Israeli elections.

92.        President Arafat told the ad hoc Sub-Committee that he could see no reason for the delay of redeployment and wondered why there should be a new agreement on Hebron. He stressed that without redeployment from Hebron, there could be no guarantee. The Palestinian side had already accepted, when negotiating the Interim Agreement, a Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) as a guarantee for the security in the area (see Article VII of the Protocol concerning redeployment and security arrangements, Annex I to the Interim Agreement).

93.        In mid-August, the Israeli government began discussion of a redeployment plan submitted by the Israeli Minister of Defence, Mr Yitzhac Mordechai. It appears that a second plan has been prepared by the Minister on National Infrastructure, Mr Ariel Sharon.

94.        As a reaction, Hebron settlers planned a widespread campaign to pressure the government not to implement the agreement on the redeployment from Hebron and threatened with strikes, demonstrations and any other possible action to stop the redeployment. Moreover, the head of the Tzomet party and Minister of Agriculture, Mr Raphael Eytan, threatened, on 20 August 1996, to withdraw from the coalition and cause thus the fall of the government in case that redeployment from Hebron was to be decided by Mr Netanyahu.

95.        At the same time, the Israeli government linked the Hebron pull-out to the closing of PLO official offices in Jerusalem making the latter a sine qua non condition for the former. President Arafat rejected this linkage as a new, unacceptable condition.

96.        On 25 August 1996, President Arafat did close down three important PLO offices in Jerusalem. It remains to be seen what will be the Israeli government's reaction to this Palestinian move.

97.        The Rapporteur underlines the importance of respecting the Interim Agreement, including its provisions on redeployment from Hebron and further redeployments in accordance with the agreed schedule. Redeployments should continue. The Rapporteur understands the security concerns of Israel and Mr Netanyahu's position that the security of the Jewish population of Hebron is not only of Israeli interest but also in the Palestinians' interest, since violence in Hebron could explode the whole peace process. However, assessments of Israeli security concerns should be objective.  Furthermore, these assessments, in order to allow a departure from the Interim Agreement, an international agreement co-signed by representatives of the international community other than the two parties, should be internationally explained. Finally, redeployments should be pursued in the light of co-operation with the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority.

2.         Israeli security concerns and border closure of the Palestinian Authority territories

98.        As was said above, the wave of suicide bombings in Israel by Hamas terrorists, led to a complete closure on the territories, preventing all Palestinians form West Bank and Gaza Strip from entering Israel.  Given Palestinian dependence on jobs inside Israel, this closure policy has had a severe and adverse effect on the Palestinian economy. Even exceptional cases, such as medical emergencies, for which allowances had been made under previous closures, were denied entry to Israel. For the first three weeks after the bombings, Israel, through its control over Areas B and C of the West Bank, imposed a closure around all individual cities of the West Bank. Prevented from travelling even within the West Bank many Palestinians could not go to work and could not reach medical care. Many Palestinian villages faced food shortage.

99.        As a result of the closure and despite its subsequent partial easing, the number of unemployment increased dramatically to 40% in West Bank and 60% in the Gaza Strip. According to Dr Shtayyed, Director of the Palestinian Council for Reconstruction and Development, the closure has caused a 25% reduction of the gross national product and a clear fall in investments.[13]

100.      In the meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee on Assistance to the Palestinians, held in Brussels, on 12 April 1996, the donors were asked to consider adjusting the assistance programmes towards immediate employment-creating projects, proposed by the United Nations Special Co-ordinator for the Palestinian territories and the World Bank. Several donors, including Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Japan, agreed to do so. But the impact of these adjustments was limited. It is not possible to create immediately jobs sufficient to compensate for the thousands of jobs lost by Palestinian labour in Israel as a result of the closure. Moreover, donors find it difficult to implement any projects with the restrictions that exist on the movement of project materials and project personnel.

101.      All Palestinian representatives who met with the ad hoc Sub-Committee, including President Arafat, stressed the disastrous effects caused by the closure to the Palestinian economy. They also said that the restrictions the closure imposed on the freedom of movement of the Palestinian people wanting to travel from West Bank to Gaza Strip caused them daily frustration.

102.      Mr Hanegbi, on behalf of the Israeli government, said that the closure was imposed on both sides and was equally undesirable by both sides. It was humiliating for Palestinians and economically damaging for them but also for Israel. But there were serious security concerns that had led the previous government to impose the closure. Security was an issue in which the new government would be stricter than the previous one. The Likud party had won the elections mainly because of the importance it attached to security concerns. The government feared that after the lifting of the closure, a new terrorist attack could happen.

103.      Recently, on 20 August 1996, the United Nations Special Co-ordinator for the Palestinian territories, Mr Larsen, warned that, given the closure, the budget deficit of the Palestinian Authority reached 127 million dollars. The Palestinian Authority risked economic collapse in the coming weeks if its financial problems were not to be solved. The only chance for an improvement of the situation would be offered by an easing and eventually lifting of the closure.

104.      The Rapporteur, while recognising the Israeli security concerns, cannot but be seriously concerned over the grave economic and psychological damage the continuing closure causes. He considers that, in any case, it should be made clear that border closure is not introduced or maintained for punitive reasons, as some Palestinian people seem to think. The reasons of security which may dictate the closure should thus be internationally explained by the Israeli side.

3.         Settlements

105.      As was said above, expansion of settlements is included among the goals of the new Israeli government (see above paragraph 68 and footnote 8). Thus, on 2 August 1996, the Israeli government lifted restrictions on Jewish settlement in West Bank and Gaza Strip imposed by the Labour government in 1992. The placing of some 300 mobile homes in settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for public and educational use was subsequently approved.

106.      The new Israeli government claims that the Interim Agreement includes the issue of Jewish settlements among those left for permanent status negotiations and therefore expansion of settlement is not a violation of the Agreement. It was merely an internal decision of the previous government to freeze the building of settlements which does not bind the present government.

107.      When meeting the ad hoc Sub-Committee, Mr Hanegbi reiterated this position. He further claimed that the issue of settlements would not be problematic if Palestinians were to accept the principle that settlers would stay. If this was the case, a difference in the number of settlers would not make a great change. But if the Palestinians envisaged a Palestinian state in which there would be no Jews, then settlers would disturb them regardless of their number. Settlers were no more than approx. 150,000. No Israeli government could take the responsibility of sending them away. Such a decision would not advance the peace process in any way. There should be two communities in the areas where settlements existed.

108.      For the Palestinian side, expansion of the settlements is a major violation of the peace agreements. While the future of the existing settlements was left for permanent status negotiations, further development of settlements violated the Interim Agreement which prohibited any activity which would prejudice the permanent status negotiations.

109.      Palestinian representatives met by the ad hoc Sub-Committee  said that continuing confiscation of Palestinian land was the major obstacle to the peace process, even before the recent Israeli elections. Dr Shafi, Chairman of the Political Affairs Committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council, expressed his disappointment that the international community was not reacting to the development of Jewish settlement activity. President Arafat told the delegation that increase of the settlements and the settlers would be a flagrant violation of the peace agreements.

110.      In early August, following Israel's decision to lift the partial freeze on Jewish settlement building, President Arafat wrote a protest letter to Mr Netanyahu. On 7 August, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) adopted a resolution stating that settlement and peace were incompatible. The PLC was calling the Executive Authority to consider obstructing and stopping the negotiations until Israel would commit to the peace agreements.  It was an Arab and international duty to stop the settlements. The PLC appealed to the United States, Russia and Europe to take moral and political responsibility and objected the United States policy which ignored the problem of settlements. Finally, the PLC called upon the Israeli people supporting the peace process to do so.

111.      The Speaker of the PLC, Mr Qurei, stated on 22 August 1996, that there was no benefit in resuming negotiations with Israel, if the latter continued violating the Agreement. In his view, there was no point in carrying out negotiations which would cover expansion of settlements.

112.      The attitude of the new Israeli government towards settlement policy seems to be the main reason of a crisis situation in the Israeli-Palestinian relations. The Rapporteur considers that expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, pending the resumption of permanent status negotiations, damages the prospect of progress. Whatever is to be agreed under these negotiations, their resumption and outcome should not be prejudiced by any activity of either side. 

4.         Other permanent status issues

113.      As was said above, the new Israeli government has declared that it will propose Palestinians an arrangement whereby "they will be able to conduct their lives freely within the framework of self-government". But it made it clear in its policy guidelines (see above paragraph 67 and footnote 8) that it will definitely oppose the creation of a Palestinian state.

114.      Equally clear is the position of the new Israeli government on Jerusalem. "Reinforcing the status of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Jewish people" is indeed one of its goals (see above paragraph 67 and footnote 8).

115.      These declared Israeli positions on two of the most crucial issues left for permanent status negotiations bring the new government in direct opposition to the traditional Palestinian demands for the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

116.      Despite this sharp opposition, the Palestinian side insists on the necessity to resume negotiations on the permanent status issues in the belief that, through negotiations, solutions acceptable to both sides could still be found. This position was repeated by the Palestinian representatives, including President Arafat, in their meetings with the ad hoc Sub-Committee.

117.      The recent decision of President Arafat to close three PLO offices in Jerusalem is also significant of his readiness to create conditions which would allow the resumption of negotiations.

118.      As Mr Peres told members of the ad hoc Sub-Committee, one should distinguish between negotiations and solutions. For instance, the fact that he had accepted that Jerusalem be put on the agenda for permanent status negotiations did not mean that he would be ready to concede to Palestinian demands. But one should facilitate and not block discussions with the other side.

119.      The Rapporteur finds it essential that permanent status negotiations, postponed on 5 May 1996, resume as soon as possible on the basis of the agreed principles, including the issues to be discussed and the time-table.

III. Democratic institution building in the Palestinian Authority territories

A.        The Palestinian self-rule institutions

120.      The Interim Agreement and the elections of 20 January 1996, gave rise to the first popularly-elected body to represent the Palestinians of West Bank and Gaza Strip: the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority, consisting of a 88-member Palestinian Council and the Ra'ees (President) of the Executive Authority.

121.      The Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority was elected by the Palestinian people of the West Bank, Jerusalem (according to special arrangements) and Gaza Strip for a transitional period not exceeding five years from the signing of the Gaza-Jericho Agreement on May 4 1994.

1.         The Palestinian Council in general

122.      The Palestinian Council possesses both legislative and executive powers on matters that fall within its jurisdiction. Upon its inauguration, it replaced the Palestinian Authority and assumed all its undertakings and obligations under the Gaza-Jericho Agreement, the Preparatory Transfer Agreement and the Further Transfer Protocol.

123.      In accordance with the DOP, the jurisdiction of the Council covers West Bank and Gaza Strip territory as a single territorial unit, except for issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations (ie. Jerusalem, settlements, specified military locations, Palestinian refugees, borders, foreign relations), Israelis and powers and responsibilities not transferred to the Council. According to the Interim Agreement, the authority of the Council encompasses all matters that fall within its territorial, functional and personal jurisdiction.

124.      Israel, through its military government, has the authority over areas that are not under the territorial jurisdiction of the Council, powers and responsibilities not transferred to the Council and to Israelis. To this end, the Israeli military government retains the "necessary legislative, judicial and executive powers and responsibilities, in accordance with the international law". This does not derogate from Israel's applicable legislation over Israelis in personam.

125.      The territorial jurisdiction of the Council is not static, but will continue to expand throughout the process as the gradual redeployment of Israeli forces from the remaining West Bank areas will continue to take place in accordance with the Interim Agreement provisions (see above, under A, 3, paragraphs 30-33).

126.      Israel and the Council are to cooperate on matters of legal assistance in criminal and civil matters through a legal committee established by the Interim Agreement.

2.         The Executive Authority and the Ra'ees

127.      The executive powers of the Council are exercised by the Executive Authority. The Executive Authority determines its own internal procedures and decisions making processes.

128.      The Ra'ees (President) of the Executive Authority, directly elected by the Palestinian people of West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza is an ex officio member of the Executive Authority.

129.      The rest of the Executive Authority is composed by: (a) members of the Council, chosen and proposed to the Council by the Ra'ees of the Executive Authority and approved by the Council; (b) persons appointed by the Ra'ees of the Executive Authority, in number not exceeding twenty percent of the total membership of the Executive Authority. The latter participate in government tasks but they may not vote in meetings of the Council.

130.      While the primary legislative power lies with the Council as a whole, the Ra'ees of the Executive Authority of the Council has also some legislative powers: the power to initiate legislation or prevent proposed legislation adopted by the Council; the power to promulgate legislation adopted by the Council and the power to issue secondary legislation, including regulations, relating to any matters specified and within the scope laid down in any primary legislation adopted by the Council.

3.         Relations between the self-rule and the PLO institutions

131.      Since its founding in 1964, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) has acted as the de facto  representative of the six million Palestinians who live in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the diaspora. The PLO comprises an Executive Committee, which functions as an executive branch, and the Palestinian National Council (PNC), a legislative body with representatives from all major communities in the territories and overseas.

132.      The election of the Palestinian Council opened the possibility for institutional dualism and overlap between the new institution and the PLO, in particular with regard to the legislative branch: the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), on the one hand, and the Palestinian National Council (PNC), on the other. The complication is greater since the electoral law provides that members of the PLC are automatically members of the PNC. Moreover, the functions of the Ra'ees of the Executive Authority of the Palestinian Council and of the Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee are both exercised by only one person, Yasser Arafat.

133.      The Palestinian representatives met by the ad hoc Sub-Committee said that a division of labour during the interim period will constitute in the following: the PLO will represent all 6 million Palestinians and will negotiate with Israel on the permanent status issues - as foreseen in the Interim Agreement. The Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority will represent 2,2 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for the interim period. The President of PNC, Mr Al-Za'Noon has stated that there will be full co-operation between the PLC and the PNC and that the PNC will not interfere in the work of the new Council.

134.      In its March session, the newly elected PLC accepted that PLO Executive Committee members could participate in the Council's plenary debates although they could not vote. But they rejected Arafat's proposal that the PLC is part of the PNC and therefore bound by its decisions. 

B.        The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in particular

135.      While leaving if for the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to deal with more detailed issues concerning the structure, functioning and legislative work conducted by the PLC, the Rapporteur wants to focus on some aspects of political significance.

1.         Free movement of members of the PLC

136.      Palestinian representatives, in their meetings with the ad hoc Sub-Committee, have repeatedly complained about the problems they were facing, as members of the PLC, with regard to their freedom of movement.

137.      Members of the Council - as all Palestinians - needed a permit issued by the Israeli authorities to cross Israeli territory and thus to travel from the West Bank to Gaza Strip and vice versa to attend the Council sessions. They often experienced long delays and some harassment (check of luggage etc.) as they travelled between the West Bank and Gaza.

138.      The only means for assuring adequate conditions for members to be able to carry their work normally would be the issue of VIP passes for all members of the Palestinian Council. Such VIP passes were provided for by the Interim Agreement but had so far been issued for a limited number of members having higher positions, and in particular, for members of the Executive Authority.

139.      In their meeting with the Israeli member of government, Mr Hanegbi, the ad hoc Sub-Committee raised the issue of freedom of movement of the members of the PLC. The Minister answered that, as far as he knew, members of the Palestinian Council had VIP passes but he promised he would check upon this issue. He said that some problems had been caused because members of the PLC had tried to smuggle other people, without permits, in their car.

140.      The Rapporteur was informed that members of the Palestinian Council were given VIP passes at the beginning of August. Such a move is mostly welcome and hopefully it will allow members to travel without problems.

141.      In any case, the Rapporteur finds it essential that freedom of movement for the members of the Palestinian Council be effectively guaranteed in practice.

2.         The role and independence of the PLC

142.      Despite the difficulties the PLC has been facing in addressing day-to-day Palestinian needs in view of the Israeli control over West Bank and Gaza Strip borders and its limited jurisdiction - since it cannot legislate on permanent status negotiations issues, such as, for instance, settlements or refugees - the Rapporteur underlines the commitment PLC members have shown to establishing a viable, independent legislative body which they hope will be the first democratic legislature in the Arab world.

143.      Fatah, the broad political Arafat-led movement which controls the Palestinian Authority bureaucracy and security forces, enjoys substantial majority in the Council. Approximately 64 out of 88 members of the PLC are Fateh affiliated. The Fatah majority, however, has not developed into a cohesive voting block aligned with the Authority. Fatah members often vote against Arafat's proposals and openly challenge him. Independent PLC members have emerged as important voices and have been elected chairmen of four committees.

144.      In general, political affiliation has not played a determining role in the PLC. Its members appear to be taking positions based on their individual beliefs.

145.      Relations between PLC members and constituents appear to be at this point significantly more developed than in many other new legislatures. Members strongly believe that the fact that they were elected provides them with a legitimacy and a power base that is unprecedented in Palestinian and Arab politics. They thus appear to regard responding to their constituent's needs as an important part of their responsibility. At the same time, they hope that active constituents mobilised in support of democratic issues will strengthen the independence of the PLC.

3.         Legislative-Executive relations

146.      The Interim Agreement does not provide for a clear division of power between legislative and executive branches of the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority. On the one hand, the Agreement states that the Council is composed of 88 members "and the Ra'ees of the Executive Authority". The executive therefore is part of the Council, at least to the extent that the Ra'ees is a member. On the other hand, the Ra'ees is not required to form a Cabinet exclusively composed of Council members.

147.      Despite the lack of clarity in the Interim Agreement, the members of the Palestinian Legislative Council see themselves as part of an independent legislature which is separate from, and has the authority to control the executive branch.

148.      PLC oversight of the Palestinian Authority (PA) is a top priority for PLC members. They told the ad hoc Sub-Committee that the PLC must gain control over the PA budget and must be able to respond to the constituent about PA human rights abuses.

149.      In the PLC sessions to date, heated arguments have taken place between PLC members and Ra'ees Arafat. As an example of a procedural battle won by the PLC, the members met by the ad hoc Sub-Committee said that, when adopting its rules of procedure, the PLC voted against swearing its oath to the Ra'ees and voted for individual approval of ministers. Furthermore, an attempt by the Executive to lift the immunity of members who had criticised the PA, at the beginning of April 1996, had been resisted by the PLC. 

4.         The legislative process: the Basic Law

150.      The PLC members explained that, given the technical difficulties the PLC members had so far met in attending the sessions, they had not been able to carry out much legislative work. They had mainly adopted their rules of procedure.

151.      The biggest challenge the PLC is currently facing is the discussion and adoption of the Basic Law. The Basic Law or, in its current denomination, "Temporary Constitutional Law for the Transitional Period", is provided by the Interim Agreement as the act that will regulate the organisation, structure and functioning of the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority, in accordance with the Agreement. The Basic Law will solve some of the problems related to the delimitation of powers between the Executive and the Legislative, such as, for instance whether the Ra'ees will have the power of veto etc.

152.      During the ad hoc Sub-Committee's visit, the plenary of the PLC had just started consideration of the (seventh) draft Basic Law, prepared initially by the Legal Committee of the PNC and then elaborated and modified by the PLC Legal Committee. The members of the ad hoc Sub-Committee discussed at length with the PLC members some issue which considered to be crucial. They mainly criticised the provision of the draft according to which  Islam would be the official religion and the Sharia law the main source of law. They also wondered why a separate chapter was dedicated to the freedom of press while this issue should normally have been dealt in the general chapter on human rights (for more details, the Rapporteur refers to the draft Proceedings of the ad hoc Sub-Committee).

153.      The draft Basic Law was handed in to the ad hoc Sub-Committee by the Chairman of the Legal Committee of the PLC so that the Council of Europe could offer an expertise. The text has been forwarded to the European Commission for Democracy through Law for an expertise by the beginning of September.

154.      According to information obtained subsequently, the PLC has discussed and adopted at first reading most of the articles of the draft, with the exception of the most contested ones, including those related to the role of the Islam and the Sharea'a law. Moreover, the PLC had included the chapter on the freedom of the press in the general human rights chapter as suggested by the members of the ad hoc Sub-Committee.

155.      As a concluding remark, the Rapporteur underlines that the PLC has so far demonstrated that it intends to be a serious and independent partner in governing the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Despite predictions that the PLC might be a rubber stamp for Ra'ees Arafat, this new legislative body has every chance of developing into a democratic and independent institution. One could say that a new democracy is being born in the Middle East region.

IV. Conclusions

156.      During his recent visit to the region, the Rapporteur, together with the other members of the ad hoc Sub-Committee, heard repeatedly from the Palestinian

representatives, including President Arafat, that there was a need for a more active political role of Europe in support of the peace process.

157.      Moreover, according to its policy guidelines, the new Israeli government declares that it will continue efforts to have Israel added as an associate member of the European Union, and will act to strengthen its ties with Europe. At present, there is a Euro-mediterranean association agreement between Israel and the European Union.

158.      For Europe itself, it is clear that its political stability and security depend on that of the Mediterranean area. But security and stability in the Mediterranean area cannot be guaranteed without a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Israeli-Palestinian relations are in this respect considered to be a key issue since they could determine the future of the overall peace process in the Middle East.

159.      Until now, Europe has mainly contributed to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process through generous financial assistance to the Palestinians. The European Union is indeed the most significant donor to the Palestinian Authority territories. In this context, the Rapporteur welcomes the further approval of financial assistance provided for institution building, funding of universities and community colleges, infra-structure projects at local level and for support to the private sector.[14]

160.      In a more political context, the Rapporteur finds it important that the Palestinian Authority participated on an equal footing with European Union and Mediterranean Partner Countries, including Israel, in the Barcelona Conference of November 1995. The "Barcelona Declaration" marked a new future between Europe and its Mediterranean partners and it is politically essential that Palestinians are included in this process.[15] 

161.      As for the Council of Europe's Assembly, the fact the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) enjoys observer status gives the Assembly a reason more to have an interest in the peace process.

162.      Today, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is at a crucial moment since no negotiations between the two sides have taken place since February last. The new Israeli government's positions created further tension. There is at present uncertainty as to the future of the process, including both respect of the agreements already reached and further progress.

163.      In order to keep the peace process alive, both parties must fully respect and build upon the commitments which they have freely entered into under the Interim Agreement, including respect for the Agreement timetables. Respect of the Agreement would in particular imply the following:

            i. negotiations on permanent status issues - including Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders, relations and co-operation with neighbouring countries - postponed in May 1996, should be resumed on the basis of the agreed principles;

            ii. re-deployment of Israeli forces, including from the Hebron area, should continue. The Rapporteur recognises Israeli security concerns. Thus, redeployment should be pursued in proportion to objective and internationally explained assessments of security concerns, and in the light of co-operation with the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority;

            iii. border closures are gravely damaging, economically and psychologically. In any case, it should be made clear that they are not introduced or kept in place for punitive reasons, as some Palestinian people think. Thus, if introduced or kept in place for reasons of security, this should be internationally explained by the Israeli side;

            iv. safe passage of persons and transport between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is essential. In particular, the freedom of movement of members of the Palestinian Council must be effectively guaranteed so that the democratic basis and legitimacy of the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority is fully respected;

            v. while the issue of settlements is left to be discussed during the permanent status negotiations, expansion of the settlements in the meantime would damage the prospect of progress.

164.      The Rapporteur notes that the current tensions in the Israeli-Palestinian relations are to a significant extent due to the absence of confidence between the two sides, in particular following the recent Israeli elections. In the meeting the ad hoc Sub-Committee had with Mr Hanegbi, member of the Israeli government, he stated that confidence was the key word.

165.      Confidence-building between the two sides is precisely the field in which the Assembly has sought to focus its contribution to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process following adoption of its Resolution 1013 (1993) and through the work of its five task forces. These task forces have now completed the first phase of their work.

166.      On the basis of the conclusions of the other four task forces and those drawn during the discussions the Political Affairs Committee's ad hoc Sub-Committee on the building of democratic institutions, held in Israel and the Palestinian Authority territories, the Rapporteur has identified the following main areas in which the Council of Europe, through its appropriate bodies, could and should contribute to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process:

            . youth exchanges and the setting-up of Palestinian youth organisations, in liaison with the European Youth Centres;

            . human rights education programmes;

            . human rights and democracy seminars;

            . advice on improvement of Palestinian educational infra-structures;

            . advice to the Palestinian Council in the drafting of legislation and of a Draft Temporary Constitutional Law for the Transitional Period;

            . training of Palestinian judges, lawyers and law enforcement officers;

            . local democracy: preparation of the forthcoming Palestinian local elections; the setting-up of a Palestinian association of local authorities; trilateral arrangements for co-operation between Palestinian, European and Israeli local authorities.

167.      The respective Assembly committees should continue the work they have already started in implementation of Resolution 1013 (1993) and pursue their efforts to build confidence between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, through meetings on specific issues, in the above-mentioned areas.

168.      Action on proposals developed by these meetings should further be pressed through other, appropriate each time structures of the Council of Europe, that is: the Inter-Governmental Programme of the Committee of Ministers, the Congress of Regional and Local Authorities of Europe, the European Commission for Democracy through Law, the European Youth Centres and the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (North-South Centre in Lisbon).

169.      As an example of concrete action, the Rapporteur refers to the expertise which is being prepared by the European Commission for Democracy through Law ("Venice Commission") on the Draft Temporary Constitutional Law for the Transitional Period (Basic Law), currently under discussion by the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). It seems that assistance in drafting legislation is an essential need for the PLC to which the Council of Europe has all the means to respond.

170.      Assistance to the PLC should, in general, be encouraged both by the Assembly and national parliaments of member states, including assistance in the form of equipment, staff training etc.

171.      Finally, the Rapporteur considers that the policy of the new Israeli Government for strengthening ties with Europe should be supported, but this in proportion to the honouring of Israel's commitments to the peace process.

172.      At the same time and as the peace process develops, the Assembly should further build up contacts and exchanges with the Palestinian people and their elected representatives.

173.      In this context, the Rapporteur notes that the ad hoc Sub-Committee, during its meetings with the PLC representatives, invited them to visit Strasbourg during the forthcoming Assembly part-session. It should be for the Political Affairs Committee, upon a proposal by the Sub-Committee on the Middle East, to confirm this invitation and decide whether it would be appropriate to organise a Sub-Committee hearing on this occasion between the PLC representatives and the Israeli observers.

Appendix 1

Reply by the committee of Ministers to Recommendation 1221 (1993) on the peace process in the Middle East

1.         The Committee of Ministers shares the view expressed in Recommendation 1221 (1993) on the peace process in the Middle East, that the new situation created by the signature in Washington on 13 September 1993 of an agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation deserves all appropriate support by the Council of Europe. It warmly welcomes the new prospects opened for this region on Europe's borders.

2.         With regard to paragraph 10.i of the Recommendation, the Israeli Government already participates in a number of intergovernmental activities of the Council of Europe, notably in the fields of Education, Culture, Youth, Environment and Local and Regional Authorities, and in co-operation in the legal and Human Rights fields. Israel is also a party to several European Conventions and Agreements.[16]  The Committee of Ministers expresses the hope that similar co-operation might one day be organised with the future autonomous Palestinian entity.

3.         With regard to 10.ii, the Deputies were informed in January 1993 (486th meeting, item 4) that the Secretary General had received an invitation from the Secretary General of the Arab League, to visit the League's Headquarters in Cairo.  The date and agenda of this visit have yet to be fixed.  The Arab League, for its part, was represented by its Deputy Secretary General, Mr Adnan Omrane, at the Seminar held in Strasbourg in November 1991 on "Euro-Arab understanding and cultural exchange" (at the initiative of Mr Sten Andersson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden).  The Arab League will also make a contribution to the International Symposium on Transmediterranean Interdependence and Partnership (Rome, 17-19 January 1994),  organised by the Council of Europe's Centre for North-South Solidarity and Interdependence, with the support of the Italian Government and the Commission of the European Communities.

4.         Where paragraph 10.iii.a is concerned, the Committee of Ministers at their 82nd meeting (4 May 1988), recalled that "at their 80th Session (May 1987), they had invited all parties to make genuine efforts to enter into negotiations in the framework of an international peace conference.  They feel that this appeal has lost none of its relevance, since the solution for the occupied territories depended entirely on a global, just and lasting, political settlement of the Israeli-Arab conflict." (Extract from the Final Communiqué.)

5.         The Committee of Ministers, has already taken action on paragraph 10.iii.b by deciding (at the 500th meeting of the Deputies (October 1993)), to transmit Recommendation 1221 (1993) to governments and to the Commission of the European Communities.

6.         Where support for the work of UNRWA is concerned (paragraph iii.c), the reply of the Committee of Ministers, adopted by the Deputies at their 423rd meeting (January 1989), to Assembly Recommendation 1090 (1988) on the situation of the Palestine Refugees, is recalled, which reiterated "its stand, already expressed in its reply to the Assembly's Recommendation 901 (1980) on Palestinian refugees and the activities of the UNRWA that those countries which have not contributed to the UNRWA will reconsider their position and that other countries will be able to increase their contributions."

7.         Finally, the Committee of Ministers follows with interest the Assembly's efforts to promote dialogue with and between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation, especially its invitations to the Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and PLO Chairman Arafat to address the Assembly (Prime Minister Rabin at the January 1994 part-session, and Chairman Arafat later in the year.).

Appendix 2

PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY'S WORK RELATING TO THE MIDDLE EAST

August 1996

I.              Recent activities

15-17.7.1996        Ad hoc Sub-Committee on the building of democratic institutions in the Palestinian Authority territories (of the Political Affairs Committee)

                                Meeting in Ramallah, Gaza, Nablus and Jerusalem

4.3.1996                Task Force on Human Rights, the Judiciary and the Penitentiary System in the Palestinian Authority Territories (of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights)

                                Meeting in Paris

  

9-11.2.1996          Task Force on Youth and Education in the Middle East Peace Process

                                (of the Committee on Culture and Education)

                                Meeting in Tunis

5-6.2.1996            Task Force on Local Democracy in the Middle East

                                (of the Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities)

                               

                                Meeting in Girona (Spain)                                            AS/Loc (1996) 12

18-21.1.1996        Ad Hoc Committee of the Bureau

                                Observation of the elections for the Palestinian Council and the President of the Executive Authority  

15-16.11.1995     Ad Hoc Sub-Committee for the Task Force on Economic Development and Reconstruction in the Middle East (of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development)

                                Meeting in Brussels                                                 AS/Ec (1996) 7

9-11.7.1995          Ad Hoc Committee of the Bureau

                                Meeting in Rhodes on                                              As/Bur (1995) 93 rev.

                                "The implementation of Resolution 1013 (1993): Israeli-Palestinian Peace through Democracy"   

7-8.3.1995            Ad Hoc Committee of the Bureau

                                Participation at the International Seminar on "Europe and the Middle East: Interdependence and

                                Partnership" organised by the North-South Centre in Nicosia

24.11.1994           Sub-Committee on the Situation in the Middle East (of the Political Affairs Committee)

                                Hearing on the implementation of Resolution 1013 (1993) "on the peace process in the Middle East", and in particular on the prospects of elections in the Palestinian autonomous territories and the possible contribution of the Council of Europe

II.             Assembly debates, reports submitted and texts adopted

1996

Doc 7540              Report on the threat to the pace process in the Middle East

                                (Resolution 1088 (1996) adopted by the Assembly on 26.4.1996)

                                Rapporteur: Mr de Puig, Spain, SOC

1995

                                King Hussein addressed the Parliamentary Assembly on 25 September 1995

1994

Doc 7090              Report on food and agricultural development in the Mediterranean basin

                                (Resolution 1051 (1994))

                                Text adopted by the Standing Committee, on behalf of the Assembly, on 10 November 1994)

                                Rapporteur: Mr Scheer, Socialist

Doc 7153              Report on co-operation in the Mediterranean basin

                                (Recommendation 1249 (1994) adopted on 7.10.1994)

                                Rapporteur: Mr Parisi, Italy, EPP

                                Mr Y. Arafat addressed the Parliamentary Assembly on 13 April 1994

                                Visit of a delegation of the Arab Interparliamentary Union on 12 and 13 April 1994

                                Resolution 1026 (1994) on the massacre in Hebron and its consequences for the peace process in the Middle East

                                Text adopted by the Standing Committee, on behalf of the Assembly, on 28 February 1994

                                Rapporteur: Mr Reddemann, Germany, EEP

                                Mr Y. Rabin addressed the Parliamentary Assembly on 26 January 1994

1993

Doc 6916              Report on the peace process in the Middle East

                                (Resolution 1013 (1993) adopted on 29.9.1993)

                                (Recommendation 1221 (1993) adopted on 29.9.1993)

                                Rapporteur: Mrs Baarveld-Schlaman, Netherlands, Socialist

Doc 6916

addendum            Addendum to the report on the peace process in the Middle East

                                Rapporteur: Mrs Baarveld-Schlaman, Netherlands, Socialist

1992

AS (43) CR 22      Assembly's official report (05.02.1992)

                                The President of the State of Israel, Mr Chaim Herzog, addressed the Assembly

1991

Doc 6497              Report on the contribution of the Islamic civilisation to European culture

                                (Recommendation 1162 (1991) adopted on 19.9.1991)

                                Rapporteur: Mr de Puig, Spain, Socialist

Doc 6489              Report on the general policy of the Council of Europe (Part III) -                                                              Prospects for European integration and détente in the Mediterranean basin

                                (Recommendation 1166 (1991) adopted on 24.09.1991)

                                Rapporteur: Mr Soares Costa, Portugal, Social Democrat

Doc 6462              Report on demographic imbalances between the countries of the Mediterranean basin

                                (Recommendation 1164 (1991) adopted on 23.09.91)

                                Rapporteurs: Mr Mota Torres, Portugal, Socialist, and Mr Vazquez, Spain, United Left 

Doc 6418              Report on the general policy of the Council of Europe after the Gulf War:

                                Europe's role in a future "new world order". 

                                (Resolution 963 (1991) adopted on 25.04.1991)

                                Rapporteur: Mr Soares Costa,Portugal,Social Democrat

Doc 6414              Opinion on refugee flows after the Gulf War

                                (Resolution 963 (1991) adopted on 25.04.1991)

                                Rapporteur: Mr Cucó, Spain, Socialist

Doc 6402              Report on the situation of the Palestine refugees and the immigration of Soviet Jews to Israel

                                (Recommendation 1152 (1991) adopted on 24.04.1991)

                                Rapporteur: Mr Atkinson, United Kingdom, Conservative

1990

Doc 6155              Report on the situation of the Lebanese civilian population fleeing the country

                                (Resolution 940 (1990) adopted on 02.02.1990)

                                Rapporteur: Mr Flückiger, Switzerland, Liberal

1989

Doc 6116              Report on peace prospects in the Middle East

                                (Resolution 923 (1989) adopted on 22.09.1989)

                                Rapporteur: Mr Fourré, France, Socialist

Doc 6049              Report on the situation in Lebanon

                                (Resolution 918 (1989) adopted on 11.04.1989)

                                Rapporteur: Mr Martínez, Spain, Socialist

Doc 6045              Information report on the situation on the Middle East and the peace process

                                Rapporteur: Mr Fourré, France, Socialist   

1988

Doc 5936              Report on the situation of the Palestine refugees

                                (Recommendation 1090 (1988) adopted on 07.10.1988)

                                Rapporteur: Mr Atkinson, United Kingdom, Conservative

Doc 5911              Report on the prospects for an international Middle East Peace Conference

                                (Resolution 902 (1988) adopted on 30.06.1988)

                                Rapporteur: Mr Fourré, France, Socialist

Doc 5868              Report on the situation of the Jews in the Soviet Union 

                                (Resolution 898 (1988) adopted on 03.04.1988)

                                Rapporteur: Mr Hassler, Liechtenstein

1987

Doc 5778              Report on the Jewish contribution to European culture  

                                (Resolution 885 (1987) adopted on 05.10.1987)

                                Rapporteur: Mr Martínez, Spain, Socialist

Doc 5712              Report on Egypt's role in the Middle East today

                                (Resolution 877 (1987) adopted on 07.04.1987)

                                Rapporteur: Mr Martínez, Spain, Socialist 

III.            Visits to the region

10-13.12.1995     President Martinez visited Israel and Gaza

22-25.6.1995        President Martínez visited Jordan

23-25.5.1995        Meeting of the Committee on Environment, in Jerusalem (Knesset)

24-26.5.1995        Meeting of the Committee on Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities, in Jerusalem

23-25.1.1995        Meeting of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development, in Jerusalem (Knesset)

2-13.12.1994        Meeting of the Sub-Committee on World Food Problems (Committee on Agriculture and Rural                     Development), in Jerusalem

                                (2nd Mediterranean Forum on Agriculture)

7-9.3.1994            Meeting of the Committee on Parliamentary and Public Relations, in Jerusalem

3-6.5.1993            Meeting of the Sub-Committee on the Situation in the Middle East, in Israel, West Bank and Gaza Strip

13-17.4.1993        Meeting of the Sub-Committee on the Situation in the Middle East, in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan

27.1.1993              In East Jerusalem, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly, Mr Miguel Angel Martínez met members of the Palestinian Negotiating Delegation

25-27.1.1993        President Martínez visited Israel

8-16.1.1989          The Contact Group on the situation in the Middle East (of the Political Affairs Committee) visited Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Israel

15.1.1988              The Contact Group on the situation in the Middle East met in Israel

2-3.2.1987            The Sub-Committee on the situation in the Middle East met in Egypt

Appendix 3

Ad Hoc Sub-Committee on the building of democratic institutions in the Palestinian Authority territories

Meetings in Ramallah, Gaza, Nablus and Jerusalem, 15-17 July 1996

I. Programme

Sunday 14 July 1996

Arrival of the participants and accommodation in American Colony Hotel, Jerusalem

Monday 15 July 1996

                        Working meeting in Ramallah with members of the Political Affairs Committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC):

                        Mr Azmi AL SHU'AIBI, Chairman of the delegation

                        Mr Mitri Abu EITA, Second Deputy Speaker of the PLC

                        Dr Ziad Abu AMIR

                        Mrs Rawya AL SHAWA

                        Mr Marwan BAGHOTHI

10.00 am           Opening statements

10.30 am           FIRST WORKING SESSION

                        The state of progress in the building of democratic (self-rule) institutions in the Palestinian Authority territories

                        Sub-themes:

                        a.         Relations between the various Palestinian self-rule institutions in the exercise of the executive and legislative power:

                                   

                        b.         Relations between the Palestinian self-rule institutions and the Israeli state institutions (government and Knesset)

                        c.         The legislative process: elaboration of the Basic Law and other legislation

1.00 pm            Meeting with the Speaker of the PLC, Mr Ahmed QUREI

3.30 pm/           SECOND WORKING SESSION

5.30 pm

                        Promotion and consolidation of democracy in the Palestinian Authority territories and the role of the Council of Europe

                        Sub-themes:

                        a.         Assessing the specific needs of the Palestinian Legislative Council and of the Executive Authority;

                        b.         Identifying the possible contribution of the Council of Europe

                        Closing remarks

7.00 pm            Dinner in Jericho

Tuesday 16 July 1996

                        Meetings in Gaza with members of the PLC:

12.00               Dr Haider Abdul SHAFI, Chairman of the Political Affairs Committee

1.30 pm            Mr Abdul KARIM, Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee

                        General Inrahim Abu NAJA, Secretary of the Committee on Internal and Local Affairs

                        Dr Iwad Al TIBI, member

                        Mr Rawhi FATOUH, Secretary General

5.00 pm            Return to Jerusalem

7.00 pm            Meeting in Nablus with President ARAFAT

Wednesday 17 July 1996

9.00     am        Meeting in Jerusalem with Mr Tsahi HANEGBI, Minister of Health

12                    Visit of the Knesset and attendance at the session

12.15 pm          Meeting with Mr Dan TIHON, Speaker of the Knesset

1.00     pm        Working lunch with the observers' delegation, hosted by Mr Uza LANDAU, Chairman of the delegation and Chairman of the Committee of External Relations and Defense

4.00 pm            Meeting in Tel Aviv with Mr Shimon PERES

III. List of members of the ad hoc Sub-Committee

Parliamentary Assembly:

Mr Jacques BAUMEL, Deputy (France)

Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly

Chairman of the Sub-Committee on the Middle East

of the Political Affairs Committee

Mr András BARSONY, Deputy (Hungary)

Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly

Chairman of the Political Affairs Committee

Mr Lluís Maria de PUIG, Deputy (Spain)

Member of the Political Affairs Committee and

of the Committee on Culture and Education

Rapporteur on the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

Mr Tadeusz IWINSKI, Deputy (Poland)

Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly

Vice-President of the Sub-Committee on the Middle East

of the Political Affairs Committee

Mr Aristotelis PAVLIDIS, Deputy (Greece)

Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development

Mr Walter SCHWIMMER, Deputy (Austria)

Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly

Chairman of the Group of the European People's Party (EPP)

Secretariat:

Miss Despina Chatzivassiliou

Administrative Officer

Office of the Clerk

Mrs Michèle Carliez

Assistant

Office of the Clerk

Appendix 4

Community assistance to the West Bank and Gaza Strip (1994-95)

all figures in million of ecu

       1993

(since DoP)

   1994

   1995

   TOTAL

   1994-95

Education (inc. contribution to PA budget)

15.2

10.9

26.2

52.3

Public infrastructure

17.8

1.7

15

34.5

Humanitarian assistance

10.4

4.7

5.4

20.5

Police (inc. contribution to PA budget)

 

20

 

20

Other support for the 1996 PA budget

 

 

15

15

Technical assistance (various sectors)

5

5

5

15

Elections

 

1.6

12.9

14.5

Private sector

0.4

8

3

11.4

Detainees/social welfare

 

10.1

0.5

10.6

Housing

 

10

 

10

Health

0.6

0.6

8.5

9.7

Population

 

1

4.7

5.7

Institution building (PA ministries and agencies)

 

1.4

2.5

3.9

Palestinian radio/TV

2

 

 

2

Human rights/democracy projects

0.3

0.3

0.3

0.9

Women

0.1

0.1

0.06

0.26

Agriculture

0.1

 

 

0.1

Total

51.9

75.4

98.9

226.4

Table compiled with information available as at May 1996


            Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee.

            Budgetary implications for the Assembly: none.

            Reference to committee: Doc. 7363 and Reference No. 2027 of 25 September 1995

            Draft resolution adopted unanimously by the committee on 4 September 1996.

            Members of the committee: Mr Bársony (Chairman), Lord Finsberg (Vice-Chairman), MM. van der Linden (Vice-Chairman), Antretter, Baumel, Mrs Belohorska, MM. Bergqvist, Bernardini, Björck, Bloetzer, Bokov, Büchel, Bühler, Caputo, Cem (Alternate: Tanla), Cerqueda Pascuet, Chornovil, Deasy, Demiralp, Desyatnikov, Diacov, Eörsi, Fassino (Alternate: Benvenuti), Gjellerod (Alternate: Severinsen), Gotzev, Gricius, Hardy, Irmer, Iwi_ski, Kalus, Kaspereit, Kyprianou (Alternate: Christodoulides), Mrs Lentz-Cornette, MM. Lopez Henares (Alternate: Martinez), Masseret (Alternate: Seitlinger), Medeiros Ferreira, Mota Amaral, Muehlemann, Mrs Ojuland,  MM. Oliynik, Paasilinna, Pahor, Pavlidis, Popovski, Pottakis, Pozzo, de Puig, Radulescu Botica, Mrs Ragnarsdóttir, MM. Schieder, Schwimmer, Severin, Sinka, Sir Dudley Smith (Alternate: Mr Atkinson), MM. Špa_ek, Spahia, Mrs Suchocka, MM. Thoresen, Urbain, Vella, Woltjer, Zhirinovsky, Ziuganov.

            N.B. The names of those members who took part in the meeting are printed in italics.

            Secretaries of the committee : Mr Hartland, Mr Kleijssen, Mr Gruden.


[1]. by the Political Affairs Committee

[2].  See the Reply of the Committee of Ministers in Appendix 1.

[3].  See in Appendix 2 a complete list of Assembly's activities related to the Middle East.

[4].  Following contacts with the Secretariat of the North-South Centre, the latter also considered it more appropriate not to participate at this stage in the meeting in Ramallah.

[5].  For a more detailed account of the Madrid and Washington talks, the Rapporteur refers to the report on the peace process in the Middle East [Rapporteur: Mrs Baarveld-Schlaman, (Netherlands, SOC)], adopted by the Assembly on 29 September 1993 (Doc. 6916).

[6].  The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas ("harakat al-muqawama al-islamiya") emerged in the early 1990s. It is a militant Islamic-oriented movement that denies the legitimacy of the state of Israel. Hamas' main goal is to combat the Israeli occupation, and since its members reject the existence of a Jewish state, they consider any negotiations with Israel as betrayal of the Palestinian cause. Thus, they oppose the peace process and try hard to destroy it by carrying out terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

[7].  The Interim Agreement uses the term "Council" interchangeably to refer both to a governing body that includes legislative, judicial and executive functions and to the legislative part of that body. To avoid confusion, the Rapporteur will use the term "Palestinian Council" or "Council" to refer to the governing body as a whole and the term "Palestinian Legislative Council" or "PLC" to refer to the legislative branch. Moreover, one should distinguish between the Palestinian self-rule institutions provided by the Interim Agreement (the Palestinian Council as a whole or the Palestinian Legislative Council as its legislative branch) and the PLO institutions, existing sine 1964 and comprising an Executive Committee and a legislative branch, the Palestinian National Council (PNC). For more details on this distinction see Section III, Chapter A, 3, paragraphs 131-134.

[8].  See above footnote 6 and below paragraphs 131-134.

[9].  Hizbullah ("Party of God") is a pro-Iranian Shi'ite terror organisation that fights the Israeli occupants in South Lebanon.

[10].  These statements are taken from the "Guidelines of the Government of Israel", June 1996, published by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

[11].  In 1991, the principle was referred expressis verbis only in a letter of assurances sent to all parties and signed by the United States President George Bush.

[12].  Redeployment from Hebron is provided by the Interim Agreement as partial, since the Israeli military forces will, in any case, remain in places and roads where are arrangements are necessary for the security and protection of Israelis and their movements (see Article VII, paragraph 1 (a) of the Protocol concerning redeployment and security arrangements, Annex I to the Interim Agreement). The Interim Agreement further provides that the city of Hebron will continue to be one city, and the division of security responsibility will not divide the city.

[13].  For more details, the Rapporteur refers to the opinion of the Economic Affairs Committee.

[14].  The Rapporteur further refers to the opinion of the Economic Affairs Committee which presents the European Union's assistance as part of the overall international assistance. Up-dated information on the European Union's assistance for the years 1994-95 appears in Appendix 4.

[15].  On 23 July 1996, the European Union's Council adopted Regulation No 1488/96 "on financial and technical measures to accompany (MEDA) the reform of economic and social structures in the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership". Among the partner countries and territories referred to in the Regulation "the Occupied Territories of Gaza and the West Bank" are also included.

[16]. ETS No. 15, ETS No. 20, ETS No. 24, ETS No. 27 and ETS No. 30.