Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Just before the PC meets in Ramallah, the IDF assassinates PFLP leader Nidal Salama, firing rockets at his car as he drives through Khan Yunis, also killing 1 Palestinian bystander; surrounds the home of, fatally shoots Bethlehem AMB cmdr. Mahmud Salah in an apparent assassination, also killing AMB mbr. Adnan Juayrish, who was with him; demolishes the home of Salah’s 2 brothers. Just 2 hrs. after Abbas’s new government is confirmed, a suicide bomber detonates a device outside a Tel Aviv nightclub, next to the U.S. emb., killing 2 Israelis, 1 French woman, wounding 34 (including at least 1 American); a 2d bomber escapes when his bomb fails to detonate; AMB, Hamas say they jointly planned the operation; both bombers are British Muslims (1 of Kashmiri, 1 of Pakistani descent) who apparently entered Israel fr. Gaza on British passports. Commenting on the attack, Israeli government spokesman Dore Gold says, ”This is really the first test for the new Palestinian government and unfortunately it has turned out to be a complete failure.” The IDF also fatally shoots a Palestinian in Rafah; fires on, wounds 2 Palestinian farmers working land in Khuza; conducts arrest raids in Jenin. (HA 4/29; BBC, HA, MM, NYT, PR, WP, WT 4/30; Interfax 4/30 in WNC 5/1; LAW, PCHR 5/1; NYT 5/2; JTA 5/6; PR 5/7; JPI 5/9; WP 5/10)

The PC approves (69–12, with 3 abstentions) Abbas’s new government, presented after wks. of debate within Fatah. In his inaugural speech Abbas states that there is no military solution to the conflict with Israel, rejects “terrorism,” pledges to crack down on militant groups and confiscate illegal weapons, demands an independent Palestinian state within 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, and without Jewish settlements. Israeli FM Silvan Shalom cautiously welcomes Abbas’s words on violence but says his statements on flnal status are “problematic” and “raise serious questions regarding a readiness to arrive at an agreed-upon resolution.” (HA, MM 4/29; MM, NYT, PR, WP, WT 4/30; AYM, Interfax, ITAR-TASS 4/30 in WNC 5/1; SA 4/30, al-Quds 5/1 in WNC 5/2; WJW 5/1; AYM 5/1 in WNC 5/5; HA, MM, WJW 5/2; HA 5/5; MEI 5/16)