2001: The Year in Review

2001 was year marred by the incessant Israeli military campaign of war crimes and state terrorism against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority (PA). The year was characterized by the almost daily killing and injuring of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli occupying forces; the destruction of Palestinian property, including homes, agricultural land, roads and PA buildings; extrajudicial killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces; repeated incursions by the occupying forces into areas under the full control of the PA; Israeli attacks on Palestinian cities and on PA facilities by tank fire, helicopter gunships and F-15 and F-16 fighter planes; complete closure and siege of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, by the occupying Power; severe restrictions on the freedom of movement of persons and goods, including emergency vehicles and supplies, resulting in the socio-economic strangulation of the Palestinian people; curfews; and countless abductions, arrests and detentions. Also, several devastating suicide bombings took place in Israel. In addition, 2001 witnessed ongoing efforts by a variety of players to bring a halt to the violence and deterioration of the situation on the ground and a resumption of the peace process between the two sides. Regrettably, these efforts were largely unsuccessful in preventing the continuing decline of the situation throughout the year. (The limited space in this issue precludes detailing the countless events in this regard, which can be found on our web site in the official letters sent by the Mission to the U.N.)

Jan. 2: President Arafat meets with President Clinton in Washington to discuss Clinton’s "parameters" for a resumption of negotiations and a final agreement between the two sides.

Jan. 23: New U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell decides not to appoint a new Middle East peace envoy to replace Dennis Ross. According to the State Department, despite U.S. interest in the peace process, it would not be taking part in the negotiations.

Jan. 28: Israeli Prime Minister Barak announces a halt to negotiations in Taba until after the 6 February Israeli elections.

Jan. 31: Mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) is extended for another 6 months.

Feb. 6: Likud leader Ariel Sharon is elected Prime Minister of Israel, with the highest percentage but lowest return.

Feb. 8: U.S. President Bush and President Arafat have their first telephone conversation, with Bush reiterating U.S. support for a just and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Feb. 10-18: A commission of inquiry established by U.N. Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) visits the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

Feb. 20: First high-level meeting between the PA and a representative of the new U.S. administration is held between Minister Shaath and Secretary Powell.

Feb. 25: President Arafat and Secretary Powell meet in Ramallah.

Feb. 26: U.S. State Department’s annual report on human rights cites "numerous serious human rights abuses" by Israeli security forces in 2000 and criticizes Israel of using "excessive force" against Palestinians and Israeli Arab demonstrators, targeting Palestinian leaders for execution and allowing Israeli civilians, especially settlers, to attack Arabs unimpeded.

Mar. 6: President Bush and Secretary Powell stress their commitment to pushing the Middle East peace process forward in letters addressed to President Arafat on the occasion of Eid al-Adha.

Mar. 7: Ariel Sharon is sworn in as Israel’s new PM.

Mar. 7: In his farewell address to the Knesset, former PM Barak states that the new Israeli government is not bound by understandings reached with the Palestinians at Camp David last year and at Taba in January.

Mar. 9: PM Sharon sends a letter to President Arafat stating that he is ready to meet to try to end the bloodshed.

Mar. 14: U.N. Security Council holds separate private meetings with Israeli Foreign Minister (FM) Shimon Peres and Ambassador Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to U.N.

Mar. 15: Upon the request of the Arab Group, Security Council convenes to consider the situation in the OPT. Council resumes this meeting on 19 March.

Mar. 21: The Chairman of the Sharm El-Sheikh Fact Finding Committee, former U.S. senator George Mitchell, meets with President Arafat during the Committee’s visit to the OPT.

Mar. 21: Presenting its report to the UNCHR, the Inquiry Commission calls for immediate establishment of an international presence to protect Palestinian civilians against Israeli forces and settlers, saying it was beyond dispute that Israeli forces used excessive and disproportionate force and were guilty of widespread human rights violations in the current conflict.

Mar. 27: Security Council resumes consideration of the situation in the OPT. U.S. uses its veto to block adoption of a draft resolution.

Mar. 27-28: The 13th Arab Summit, the first summit in 11 years, is held in Amman, Jordan with the focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Middle East Process. U.N. Secretary-General (SG) Annan addresses the Summit.

April 4: PA Ministers Shaath and Erekat meet with Israeli FM Peres in Athens, Greece during an economic conference. It is highest level meeting between the two sides since Sharon took office.

April 5: Following a high-level Israeli-Palestinian security meeting, the convoy of Palestinian officials who participated in the meeting is fired upon by Israeli troops.

April 5: In its annual report for 2000, Defence for Children International states that a third of Palestinian victims from the first 3 months of the intifada were under 18 years old.

April 16: Jordan FM Al-Khatib presents Israeli officials with the Jordanian-Egyptian initiative for ending the violence and resuming peace negotiations.

April 17: Secretary Powell issues a written statement blaming Israel for using excessive and disproportionate force in its massive air, land and sea offensive on the Gaza Strip a day earlier and urges the Israeli forces to withdraw.

April 21: A special session of the League of Arab States held in Cairo decides to dispatch envoys to the U.S., U.N. and EU to renew demands for an international protection force in the OPT.

May 1: Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee presents its draft report (Mitchell report) to the U.S. government and later presents copies to the Israeli government, the PA and the U.N. SG.

May 3: A Ministerial meeting of the NAM Committee on Palestine and the NAM Security Council Caucus convenes in Pretoria, South Africa.

May 10: Secretary Powell states that the Mitchell report is fine report, which could provide the basis for a new Middle East peace initiative.

May 15: Thousands of Palestinians join street demonstrations in the OPT to mark Al-Nakba, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians when Israel was founded in May 1948.

May 17: The head of the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation to Israel and the OPT states that Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are a war crime under humanitarian law, namely the Geneva Convention, which applies to the OPT and Arab East Jerusalem as well.

May 26: An emergency Ministerial meeting of the OIC, convened at Doha, Qatar to examine the situation in the OPT, issues a final statement, calling, inter alia, for an international criminal tribunal to try Israeli officials as war criminals responsible for massacres and human rights violations.

May 31: Palestinian activist and PA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Faisal Husseini, dies of a heart attack during an official visit to Kuwait.

June 16: U.N. SG visits the region and meets separately with President Arafat and PM Sharon.

June 25-27: 28th conference of OIC Foreign Ministers convenes in Bamako, Mali, with the Palestinian intifada at the top of the agenda.

June 26: After meeting with President Bush, PM Sharon declares that a "completely quiet" 10-day period is necessary before any implementation of the Mitchell report can begin.

June 28: Following a meeting with President Arafat in Ramallah, Secretary Powell states that he agrees on the need for international observers to monitor future Israeli-Palestinian steps toward peace implementation.

June 29: In Lisbon for Socialist International’s 50th Anniversary Conference, President Arafat and FM Peres hold talks.

July 21: A statement issued by the G-8 Summit supports the dispatch of observers to the OPT, stating that "third-party monitoring, accepted by both parties, would serve their interests in implementing the Mitchell report".

Aug. 10: Israeli forces raid and close down the Orient House along with 9 other buildings belonging to Palestinian institutions in and around Occupied East Jerusalem.

Aug. 20: Security Council convenes to address crisis in the OPT, including the occupation of the Orient House and other Palestinian institutions. Council is blocked from taking action by U.S. threats to veto. Most speakers reject attempts to neutralize Council and reaffirm its responsibilities.

Aug. 28-Sept.7: World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance convenes in Durban, South Africa.

Sept. 11: Catastrophic terrorist attacks are carried out against the U.S., destroying the World Trade Center in New York and striking the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., shocking the entire world.

Sept. 12: With the exception of the Security Council, the U.N. is closed in the wake of the terrorist attack in NY due to security fears. The Council adopts resolution 1368, condemning the attacks and calling on all States to work together to prevent and suppress attacks. The General Assembly (GA) adopts a similar resolution on 18 Sept.

Sept. 26: After many delays, President Arafat and FM Peres meet at Gaza International Airport.

Sept. 28: Al-Aqsa intifada of the Palestinian people marks one year since the infamous visit by Sharon to Al-Haram Al-Sharif in Occupied East Jerusalem and the launch of the bloody Israeli military campaign against the Palestinian people.

Sept. 28: Security Council adopts another more sweeping resolution 1373 on terrorism.

Oct. 12: The U.N. and SG Annan are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Oct. 22: After a formal OIC request, the Security Council fails to take concrete action on the crisis situation in the OPT following the Israeli reoccupation of 6 Palestinian cities.

Nov. 10: In his address to the U.N. GA, President Bush expresses an important U.S. vision for the Middle East, stating "We are working toward a day when two states, Israel and Palestine, live peacefully together within secure and recognized borders as called for by Security Council resolutions."

Nov. 11: President Arafat addresses GA general debate. He also holds several bilateral meetings with Heads of State and other high-ranking officials, including Secretary Powell. A reception is hosted in his honor by the CEIRPP.

Nov. 14: Annual NAM Ministerial meeting is held at the U.N., adopting a Special Declaration on Palestine along with a Final Communique and Special Declaration on 40th Anniversary of NAM.

Nov. 19: Secretary Powell presents a comprehensive U.S. policy statement on the Middle East in Louisville, Kentucky.

Nov. 29: Annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is observed.

Dec. 5: The Conference of High Contracting Parties (HCP) to the 4th Geneva Convention is reconvened at Geneva in light of the grave deterioration of the situation in the OPT.

Dec. 14: Security Council convenes to consider crisis in the OPT following repeated Israeli attacks against the PA.

Dec. 15: U.S. vetoes a draft resolution on the situation in the OPT put to a vote before the Security Council.

Dec. 20: 10th ESS of GA resumes in light of U.S. veto and adopts resolutions ES-10/8 and ES-10/9 by overwhelming majorities.