Monday, December 14, 1998

 Clinton flies into Gaza airport by helicopter to attend the PNC session on the PLO charter, becoming the 1st sitting president to set foot on Palestinian soil. PNC mbrs., other officials approve the nullification of clauses of the PLO charter by show of hands. PM Netanyahu says he is satisfied but still will not carry out the next stage of the FRD on 12/18. U.S. says it will not press Netanyahu on the issue because of the upcoming Knesset no-confidence vote 12/21. In a luncheon speech, Pres. Clinton refers the Palestinian people's "chance to determine their own destiny on their own land," but does not speak of the right to self-determination or statehood directly. Palestinians view his visit to Gaza as tacit U.S. acknowledgement of their right to sovereignty. (CSM, MM 12/14; al-Aswaq, al-Dustur, IDF Radio, ITV, JT, MENA, al-Ra`i RE, al-Safir 12/14 in WNC 12/15; IDF Radio, ITV 12/14, AFP, JT, MA, RE 12/15 in WNC 12/16; CSM, NYT, WP, WT 12/15; WJW 12/17; ITAR-TASS 12/17 in WNC 12/21; Tishrin 12/16, al-Thawra 12/17 in WNC 12/28; PR 12/18; JP 12/21; MEI 12/25)

Hillary Clinton visits a Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza, the Israeli-Palestinian town of Neve Shalom. (CSM 12/14; WP, WT 12/15; PR 12/18)

U.S. Commerce Secy. William Daley attends the official opening of th Qarni industrial zone. Coca Cola will be the first U.S. company to open operations in the zone. A total of 22 factories in the zone are ready for operation; 14 have been leased. (JP 12/21, 12/28)

Secy. Albright meets with Israeli DM Mordechai to discuss Wye implementation, Lebanon. (IDF Radio 12/14 in WNC 12/15)

Palestinians in Lebanese, Syrian refugee camps demonstrate against Wye agmt., amendment of the PLO charter. (VOL 12/14 in WNC 12/15; SATN 12/14 in WNC 12/16)

Jordan confirms that it recently deported, but did not turn over to the IDF, 3 Palestinians carrying PA passports fr. the kingdom because they are mbrs. of Hamas's Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, pose a security threat. (JT 12/15 in WNC 12/16; al-Dustur 12/15 in WNC 12/17)

In the West Bank, 2 Palestinians are wounded in clash with IDF. (AFP [Internet] 12/15)

Iran announces it has signed a deal with Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch/Shell and the British Lasmo to explore Caspian Sea oil reserves. The $19.8-m. deal is just below the threshold set by the U.S. under its Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, which threatens economic reprisals against any company investing more than $20 m. in those countries oil industries. (WT 12/16)