JERUSALEM (Nov. 13)
The West Bank and Gaza Strip were completely sealed off over the weekend and placed in a tight military grip.
The Israel Defense Force deployed troops in unprecedented numbers to crush any disturbances that might erupt in the territories as a consequence of the Palestine National Council meeting that began Saturday in Algiers.
Telephone lines were cut, school buildings were occupied by soldiers. Local inhabitants were denied freedom of movement from one zone to another, and many workers heading for jobs in Israel were turned back at military checkpoints.
The PNC, the parliamentary body of the Palestine Liberation Organization, is expected to issue a political statement Tuesday that will include the proclamation of an independent Palestinian state in the territories.
Unconfirmed reports from Algiers on Sunday said the body would also endorse U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which implicitly recognizes Israel’s right to exist.
The Israeli authorities expect the declaration of statehood to trigger a massive escalation of the Palestinian uprising, now in its 12th month. They have vowed to prevent it by whatever means necessary.
GENERAL STRIKE IN ISRAEL
There has been unmistakable nervousness on Israel’s part over the PNC’s potential to unleash new violence in the territories and possibly among Israeli Arabs.
An ad hoc committee of Arab Knesset members and the mayors of Arab towns in Israel has, in fact, called a general strike for Tuesday.
They say it is to protest the demolition of 15 houses in the Israeli Arab town of Taiba a week ago. The Interior Ministry ordered the houses destroyed because they were built without licenses.
Organizers, who have urged the population to refrain from violence, insist the timing of the strike is not intended to coincide with the PNC’s expected declaration of statehood.