Israel and PLO will not meet Gaza deadline

CAIRO - Negotiators from Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) spent hours discussing court procedures and military jurisdiction in an 'autonomous' Gaza and Jericho at peace talks in Cairo yesterday, writes Robert Fisk. The PLO privately complained that weeks of work lay ahead before the withdrawal agreement could be signed, while the Israelis accused the Palestinians of talking too much to journalists. Both sides now acknowledge there is no hope that the original deadline for the agreement - which falls on Wednesday - will be met.

Both sides accept that a Palestinian police force with a minumum strength of 6,500 men - equipped with Kalashnikov rifles and 100 machine-guns, along with armoured vehicles, jeeps and military trucks - will start its deployment in Gaza and Jericho a week before the signing ceremony. But they have still not agreed on the size of the PLO's area of control in Jericho nor the rules under which Palestinians may travel between Jericho and Gaza on four agreed 'safe passage' roads. The Israelis still insist that no Arab may travel between the two cities without their approval.

The PLO and the Israelis also remain far apart over the specific jurisdiction which each side will have over the other's citizens after the Israeli army redeploys in Gaza and Jericho. 'The Israelis say they must have personal jurisdiction over all Jewish settlers, wherever they are,' a PLO source said yesterday. 'We say that anybody - Israeli or Palestinian - who is in our territory comes under our control. The jurisdiction must be ours.' The PLO's legal committee, led by Dr Nabil Shaath, the chief Palestinian negotiator, repeatedly raised this issue with the Israelis yesterday, pointing out that if an armed Jewish settler threatened Palestinians in the PLO's zone of Gaza, it would fall to the PLO to arrest him.

Yet still there is no agreement about a system of courts in the newly 'autonomous' areas which will be run by the PLO. The nearest the two sides have come to creating a judicial authority - as revealed in the Independent on Sunday yesterday - is a Joint Security Committee (JSC) which will comprise between five and seven officers each from the Israelis and the PLO, with offices in Khan Younis, Gaza and Jericho, to deal with violent incidents. The PLO's security forces will be divided into four branches: police units to administer Palestinian territories, 'public security' units to investigate crime, civil defence to run the fire services and other utilities, and a mukhabarat (intelligence) service. One intelligence officer from each side will meet at the JSC's weekly meetings for what the PLO calls 'non-friction co-ordination' - to prevent PLO and Israeli forces accidentally shooting at each other.

The PLO is putting a brave face on the continued presence of settlers during the 'interim phase' of autonomy, complaining that 80 per cent of the time has been spent negotiating the security of the settlers but pointing out that 800,000 Palestinians - 1967 exiles and their children - will have the right to apply for permission to return to Gaza or Jericho from a joint Egyptian-Jordanian-Israeli-PLO committee. At the first official meeting between the PLO and a joint US State and Defense Department delegation in Cairo last week, the US administration agreed to furnish the PLO's embryo police force with military trucks and jeeps as well as communications equipment. The Palestinians have agreed to mount joint patrols and use 'joint mobile units' on three new roads in Gaza which will be used by settlers wishing to travel to and from Israel.

JERUSALEM - A Palestinian guard who witnessed the massacre at a mosque in Hebron yesterday testified he saw only one gunman, Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish settler, shoot at Muslim worshippers, Reuter reports. 'He was shooting alone, there was nobody else with him,' Ismail Hashlamon said of Goldstein's murder of some 30 Palestinians in February. His testimony, before the Israeli inquiry into the killings, contradicted statements by other Arab witnesses suggesting that Mr Goldstein may have had an accomplice.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own