Israel: November 23, 2000

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  The Israeli security cabinet has given the prime minister a free hand to do whatever he sees fit to deal with increasing Palestinian violence. This will speed up Israeli response and make possible more different types of responses.  Meanwhile, the violence continues, with the death toll for eight weeks now some 270 dead.  Increasingly, the fighting has centered around Jewish settlements in Palestinian areas and terrorism in Israeli towns and cities. Both of these represent the extremism that has made any compromise so difficult. Israeli extremists believe that the Palestinian areas should be part of Israel and that if the Arabs don't behave, the Arabs should be expelled to neighboring Arab states. To that end, the Israeli extremists have, since Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, established Jewish settlements in those areas. These settlements have become heavily armed, and isolated, Jewish outposts in Palestinian areas. The "settlers" who occupy these settlements are provided weapons by the government. When the local situation becomes particularly tense, the settlers can call on the Israeli army for additional protection. The presence of these settlements is the cause of much anger among Palestinians. A peace deal with the Palestinians is stuck because the Palestinians want the settlements gone, while the highly vocal (and sometimes violent) right wing groups in Israel will not sit still for removing any settlements. The Palestinian extremists believe Israel should not exist at all.  To this end they wage a war of terror against Israelis, and any Palestinians who seem too keen on making peace with Israel. This last point is critical, for any peace deal will mean that Palestinians will try to assassinate the Palestinian leader responsible. Meanwhile, the Palestinians say they are willing to renew peace talks if Israel will stop it's blockade of Palestinian areas (which is keeping Palestinians from jobs in Israel.)

 

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