Israel: June 30, 2003

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After several weeks of discussions by Palestinian groups (both terrorist and non-terrorist), the Palestinian terrorist organizations have agreed to a three month cease-fire in attacks against Israelis. This would include rocket attacks against Israeli neighborhoods as well as suicide bomber and sniper attacks. In return, Israel will withdraw most of its troops from Gaza and other Palestinian territories. Israeli attacks on the leaders of terrorist groups will stop. During the three month truce, negotiations will proceed on establishing a Palestinian state. It's most likely that the Palestinians will get, at most, the same proposal Israel offered 33 months ago. The response to that was the Palestinian violence. Only the main Palestinian terror groups have agreed to the truce. There are smaller groups that vow to continue. But the three main groups account for over 95 percent of the attacks. However, it will only take a few attacks to cause an uproar amongst the Israeli electorate and reoccupation of Palestinian territory by Israeli troops and police. Much pressure was put on the terrorist groups by Egyptian and Syrian politicians, and the terrorists are looking at this three month truce as a cease fire that will enable them to recover from the damage done to their organizations by the Israelis. The terrorists want the Israel destroyed, and a cease fire does not change that. The death toll, since September 2000, is 3,372 (2,542 Palestinians and 770 Israelis).

Today, Israeli troops withdrew from northern Gaza, except for those guarding Israeli settlers. There are 125 settlements, with about 200,000 Israelis living in them. Many are there because of cheap housing (subsidized by government programs to encourage movement to the Palestinian settlements). While the current settlements occupy less than one percent of the area in the Palestinian territories, the settlers have been given the right to expand into land that includes about 42 percent of the West Bank and 22 percent of Gaza. The settlers believe that the Palestinian territories are part of "Greater Israel" and should be under Israeli control. Some settlers believe that the Palestinian Arabs should be forcibly expelled from "Greater Israel." 

 

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