Monday, May 15, 2000

In a scathing 4-page letter, `Abid Rabbuh publicly announces his resignation as PA chief negotiator for the final status, revealing the secret Stockholm talks. (MENL 5/15; MENA 5/15 in WNC 5/16; MM, NYT, WT 5/16; AYM 5/16 in WNC 5/18)

U.S. special envoy Ross arrives in Israel fr. Stockholm, along with the new PA, Israeli final status teams. All parties refuse to comment on the success or failure of the Stockholm talks. The State Dept. does not even confirm or deny that Ross was in Sweden, says only that the PA and Israel "are talking to each other in different ways at different levels." (State Dept. daily press briefing 5/15; MM, NYT, WT 5/16; State Dept. daily press briefing, WT 5/17; al-Quds 5/17 in WNC 5/18)

Across the West Bank and Gaza, 1,000s of Palestinians commemorating the Nakba and protesting the stalled peace process and Israel continued detention of Palestinian prisoners clash with IDF troops and border police in the worst fighting since 9/96. 2 PA policemen and 1 Palestinian civilian are killed and 100s are injured by rubber bullets, live ammunition, and tear gas; 14 Israeli soldiers and police officers are also injured. Some exchanges of gunfire are btwn. PA police, Israeli security forces. Arafat, Barak are in contact via their advisers throughout the day, speak by phone in the evening. (LAW, MM 5/15; BDL, LAW, NYT, WP, WT 5/16; ITAR-TASS 5/15, MENA 5/16 in WNC 5/17; AYM, al-Quds 5/16 in WNC 5/18; WJW 5/18; MEI 5/19)

Despite clashes, the Israeli cabinet votes (15-6) to transfer 3 Palestinian villages outside Jerusalem (Abu Dis, Azariyya, Sawahara al-Sharqiyya) fr. area B to area A. Later in the day, the Knesset approves (56-48, with 1 abstention) the cabinet decision. Barak, however, says he will not turn over the villages until he receives an explanation fr. the PA for today's clashes in the territories. (MM 5/15; MENA 5/15 in WNC 5/16; MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/16; MM 5/17; WJW 5/18; MEI 5/19)

10,000s of Jewish settlers rally in Jerusalem's Zion Square to protest further territorial concessions to the Palestinians. The rally was planned by Shas last wk., before today's Knesset vote was announced. (MM 5/15; MM, NYT, WP 5/16; WJW 5/18)

In s. Lebanon, the IDF turns over its Taybiyya post to the SLA, marking the 1st step in a withdrawal fr. Lebanon. (MM, WT 5/17; NYT 5/18)