Israel Sets up Special HQ to Handle Possible Clashes with Palestinians
Israel's defense ministry has set up a special headquarters to coordinate military and civilian action in the event of clashes with the Palestinians following failure at the Camp David summit, reported AFP, quoting the Yediot Aharonot daily.
The office is to be headquartered is headed by Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh and the coordinator of Israeli activities in the West Bank and Gaza strip, General Yaacov Or, according to the paper.
The defense ministry would not comment to AFP on the report.
A military spokesman announced that the army was ready to act when needed, given the risk of trouble, adding that the army had not recently increased its capabilities for fear that such a move could heighten tension.
On the Palestinian side, PLO's mainstream 'Fateh' faction has called "a general state of alert" in the event of failure at Camp David, and ahead of a unilateral declaration of independence September 13th.
Palestinian telecommunications minister Imad Falouji warned Thursday of an explosion of violence if Israel makes no compromise at the Camp David summit.
He said that any future conflict with Israel would bring together the Palestinian factions, including Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, which have carried out most of the anti-Israeli attacks since the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993, said the agency.
'RENEWED CLASHES WITH ISRAEL MAY RUIN PALESTINIAN ECONOMY'
An armed conflict with the Palestinians resulting from negative developments in the Camp David peace negotiations will deal a fatal blow to the Palestinian economy, said The Jerusalem Post, according to a report by an Israeli economist.
"The Palestinians have something to lose economically," said Roby Nathanson in his report, adding that "ten years ago, they didn't have anything to lose."
An armed conflict will likely exacerbate the current situation by deterring foreign investment, he added.
"We live in an era of globalization that depends on foreign investment. This situation could be a fatal one," Nathanson said. He noted that even Palestinians living abroad hesitate to pour funds into the PA-controlled areas due to instability.
Other areas which could be harmed are trade with Israel and employment, the report said.
According to daily, last year saw a marked improvement in Palestinian unemployment, which fell to 12.7%, from 15.6% in 1998.
Of the rise in employment, 34.4% was due to an increase in the number of Palestinian workers in Israel.
Early 2000 data, however, shows an emerging negative trend in this area, as the number of Palestinians authorized to work in Israel decreased in the first quarter by 1.3% from the same period in 1999. This element can deteriorate further in the event of a confrontation.
The report, titled "The Palestinian Economy," cited the positive economic developments in the economy of the Palestinian autonomous areas last year.
In 1999, annual income per capita reached $1,575, a 1.7% increase over the previous year. Gross domestic product gained 6% and exports to Israel rose by 9% in 1999.
"What we are seeing is a very positive development. All the signs of the infant economy are positive. This includes a diminishing dependency of the Palestinians on the Israeli economy," Nathanson said.
The primary negative area in 1999 was investment in the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. Excluding the large Gaza electric plant project, investment declined in 1999, the daily reported – (Several Sources)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)