Jerusalem Mayor Blames Bush for Tensions in City
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Jerusalem’s mayor Saturday blamed recent statements by President Bush for raising tensions in the city, which over the weekend experienced some of its worst violence in the Palestinian uprising.
Israeli police shot and killed two Palestinians in a refugee camp of Arab east Jerusalem on Friday night, sparking riots Saturday.
Israeli leaders recently restated their claim to the Arab sector of Jerusalem, despite recent U.S. statements that the status of the land is in dispute and should be resolved by negotiation.
Israel captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the 1967 Middle East war. It has since annexed east Jerusalem, home to 140,000 Palestinians, and has been building Jewish neighborhoods around the Arab enclave to strengthen its hold on the land.
Both Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker III said in the past 10 days that Israel’s policy of settling Jews in the occupied lands, including east Jerusalem, was an impediment to peace.
″We do not believe there should be new settlements in the West Bank or east Jerusalem,″ Bush said at a news conference March 3.
Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem called Bush’s remarks untimely and unjustified.
″I feel offended by lack of knowledge about what is going on here on part of very important people who are our friends who have no idea what’s happening,″ the mayor said on Israel radio.
He said that on one hand Bush supported the unity of the city and the right of Jews to live there, but on the other he referred to Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem as settlements. This, he said, ″is inconsistent with the facts.″
Kollek also said Palestinian frustration over the lack of progress in peace efforts was mounting in advance of a debate Sunday in the inner Cabinet. The left-leaning Labor Party and the right-wing Likud bloc will once again attempt to reach a decision on whether to accept U.S. proposals for holding peace talks in Cairo.
Violence erupted Friday night in the Shufat refugee camp in Arab east Jerusalem, the only camp within Jerusalem’s city limits. Residents said police opened fire that night and again Saturday morning to quell stone-throwing demonstrations.
Camp residents and U.N. officials identified the victims as Mahmud Fawzi Abu Khalife, 21, and Sufian Mohammed Abdullah Khalil, 25. They said at least two other Palestinians were wounded, one critically.
Police spokesman Uzi Sandori confirmed one dead and two wounded. He said the man was killed when 40 masked youths charged police with iron bars Saturday morning. About a dozen camp residents were detained for questioning, he said.
It was some of the worst violence in the city since the uprising against Israeli rule began in December 1987.
The deaths raised to 662 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops or civilians in the uprising. Forthy-three Israelis also have been killed.
Word of the deaths sparked rioting in east Jerusalem. Police dispersed students who had overturned a vehicle and hurled stones at passing cars, Sandori said.
Later, about 400 Israeli and Palestinian women held a peaceful rally along the border where east and west Jerusalem meet. They called on Israel to negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization and halt Jewish settlements in occupied lands.
In the Gaza Strip, Arab reports said masked assailants killed a Palestinian man, Ibrahim el-Batnaje, with axes and daggers for allegedly collaborating with Israeli authorities.
His death brought to 195 the number of Palestinians slain by their fellow Arabs on suspicion of collaborating with Israel.