Palestine from 2000 to 2005

Outbreak of the »second Intifada« and change of course in Israel (2000 to 2005): After the Israeli opposition leader A. Sharon (Likud), accompanied by 1,000 police officers, demonstratively visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – the location of two central Muslim shrines (Al -Aksa Mosque and Dome of the Rock) – and there was violence there from the Palestinian youth, who perceived this visit as a provocation, escalated into the “Al-Aksa Intifada” in the following days. This “second” Intifada uprising was also exacerbated by the Palestinians’ disappointment at the delay in establishing the state. In addition, Arafat After Israel had attacked targets in Gaza and Ramallah with heavy weapons on October 12, 2000, 120 Hamas people who had previously been held as terrorists were released. Under Clinton’s mediation took place on 17. 10. 2000 at a crisis summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, whose only significant result of the establishment of an international commission to analyze the causes of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, headed by former US Senator George Mitchell (* 1933) was.

At the end of 2000 peace negotiations between Israel and the PLO were resumed in the USA and in January 2001 in Taba. When these were interrupted because of the upcoming elections in Israel on February 6, 2001, it was said that the two sides had been closer than ever before on territorial issues. However, as a result of the election result, which with Sharon brought back the advocates of the primacy of Israeli security interests and longstanding protagonists of offensive settlement policy, talks were not resumed. Sharon was only ready to agree on a further transitional agreement with the Palestinians and rejected an agreement on the final status of the autonomous territories.

The three-stage plan to end the Middle East conflict presented in the “Mitchell Report” on May 5, 2001 was ineffective because of the ever-increasing escalation of violence.

In the period that followed, there were repeated Palestinian suicide bombings in the Israeli heartland and rocket attacks on Jewish settlements, for which Hamas, Jihad Islami, PFLP and the Tanzim militias affiliated with Fatah were responsible. Israel, for its part, responded with retaliatory acts, mostly by destroying police stations, among other things. Infrastructural facilities of the autonomous authority, by military. Re-occupation of already cleared areas in the West Bank (Zone A) and their »temporary closure« (2001/2002), especially the temporary occupation of almost all large cities in the autonomous areas (from March 12, 2002) as well as targeted »preventive« killings of alleged bombers or “ringleader”. This also included that Sharon on December 13, 2001 Arafat declared “no longer relevant”. He had the PLO chief’s residence in Ramallah rearranged and largely destroyed it, effectively imposing house arrest on Arafat, which lasted with small interruptions until the terminally ill Palestinian president left for Paris in autumn 2004.

On March 12, 2002, the United Nations recommended the creation of a state of Palestine in its resolution 1379 at the suggestion of the USA (exact wording: “Existence of two states in security and with recognized borders”). This US initiative was also an indirect approval of the “Abdallah Plan” presented to the Arab League by the Saudi Crown Prince at this time, which essentially involved Israel’s withdrawal to the areas before the Six Day War in 1967, an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip Jerusalem as the capital as well as the complete diplomatic recognition of Israel by the Arab states and thus for the first time contained the chance for a final peace that would include all Arab states; Sharon granted thisa rejection. From April 2002 the international community of states, above all the USA, Russia, the EU and the UN as a Middle East Quartet, tried to organize an international Middle East peace conference to put an end to the violence. The plan (“roadmap”) of a three-step state formation from a temporary arrangement to be created in 2003 to the final proclamation in 2005 was rejected by the Israeli side.

On June 16, 2002, Israel began to provide the autonomous area in the West Bank with a strongly developed border fortification system. In many places, Israeli settlements near the border in the West Bank were added to the Israeli heartland, or Palestinian towns were cut off from their agricultural land and connections to neighboring towns, making irrigation and harvesting as well as access to jobs and schools more difficult. In July 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague asked Israel to dismantle this fortification, which is contrary to international law. Israel rejected this but made some corrections to the course of the wall based on rulings by the Israeli Supreme Court in favor of the Palestinians.

Another part of Israel’s negative attitude towards new negotiations was that Sharon (re-elected Prime Minister in 2003) did not want to lead them as long as Arafat represented the Palestinians. This position was temporarily weakened after Arafat gave up part of his power in the spring of 2003 and his PLO deputy Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) assumed the newly created office of prime minister on April 29, 2003. At the invitation of the Jordanian King, US President G. W. Bush, Abbas and Sharon met on June 4, 2003 in Aqaba. There Sharon advocated became the first Israeli head of government to establish a Palestinian state, while Abbas proclaimed the end of the armed Intifada after a thousand days. A three-month ceasefire negotiated by the autonomy authority with the main actors of the Intifada ended prematurely with a new wave of suicide attacks (from August 12). Israel then went back to its previous “anti-terrorist measures” in mid-August. On September 6, 2003 Abbas resigned as a relatively hapless Prime Minister. Arafat then appointed a confidante, Ahmed Qurei, to succeed him.

The liquidation of the previously spared head of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, on March 22, 2004 – and a few weeks later his successor Rantisi  - led to a strong solidarity between the Palestinian people and Hamas. With these actions Sharon wanted to avoid it. that the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, announced for the first time in January 2004, could be interpreted as a Hamas victory.

After Arafat’s death on November 11, 2004 in Paris (buried in Ramallah), the offices and positions of power held by him in personal union were divided up and the overdue elections were gradually made up for. In the presidential elections on January 9, 2005, Abbas was trusted and, in March 2005, obtained a ceasefire declaration from Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Brigades (but not from the Islamic Jihad) vis-à-vis Israel by the end of 2005.

SharonRealized the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank in August / September 2005 despite fierce resistance in the Likud party and among the settlers (official handover to the Palestinian Authority on September 12, 2005). Some synagogues, which had not been demolished by the Jewish side when the settlements were completely cleared, were set on fire when the Palestinians moved in, which led to a further tightening of relations with the Palestinians in Israel. The PA’s inadequacy in establishing law and order in the Gaza Strip was also demonstrated by its failure to prevent Qassem rockets from being fired on Israel.

Palestine from 2000 to 2005