US embassy cable - 95JERUSALEM3642

PALESTINIANS EXPRESS SHOCK, ANXIETY ABOUT THE FUTURE, AFTER RABIN ASSASSINATION

Identifier: 95JERUSALEM3642
Wikileaks: View 95JERUSALEM3642 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Jerusalem
Created: 1995-11-05 18:20:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV KWBG KISL PLO KPAL PTER IS
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 051820Z NOV 95
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9264
INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
WHITEHOUSE WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 JERUSALEM 003642 
 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: 11/05/00 
TAGS: PGOV, KWBG, KISL, PLO, KPAL, PTER, IS 
SUBJECT: PALESTINIANS EXPRESS SHOCK, ANXIETY ABOUT THE 
FUTURE, AFTER RABIN ASSASSINATION 
 
1.  CLASSIFIED BY EDWARD G. ABINGTON, CONSUL GENERAL. 
1.5B-D.  THIS IS A JOINT CONGEN JERUSALEM, EMBASSY TEL 
AVIV CABLE. 
 
2.  SUMMARY.  PALESTINIANS HAVE REACTED WITH SHOCK TO 
THE NOVEMBER 4 ASSASSINATION OF ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER 
YITZHAK RABIN, FOLLOWED BY ANXIETY ABOUT WHAT HIS DEATH 
MEANS TO THE PEACE PROCESS AND THEIR FUTURE.  WEST BANK 
AND GAZA ARE UNDER CLOSURE FOR AN INDEFINITE PERIOD, AND 
TOWNS WERE QUIET.  YASIR ARAFAT AND OTHER PA OFFICIALS 
HAVE EXPRESSED THEIR SHOCK AND SADNESS REGARDING RABIN'S 
DEATH, AND VOW THAT THE PEACE PROCESS WILL NOT BE 
DISRUPTED AS A RESULT.  MAMAS AND PIJ "CELEBRATIONS" 
HAVE BEEN FIRMLY PROHIBITED; PALESTINIAN SECURITY CHIEFS 
DO NOT EXPECT THAT ISLAMISTS WILL TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE 
CRISIS TO CARRY OUT OPERATIONS.  PPF DEPLOYMENT INTO 
JENIN HAS BEEN DELAYED, PROBABLY ONLY FOR A FEW DAYS. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
 
WEST BANK/GAZA QUIET AS PALESTINIANS ABSORB THE NEWS 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
3.  THE WEST BANK AND GAZA WAS ABNORMALLY QUIET THE DAY 
AFTER RABIN'S ASSASSINATION, WITH MOST PALESTINIANS 
APPEARING TO BE IN SHOCK ABOUT THE NEWS OF HIS MURDER 
AND ANXIOUS ABOUT THE IMPACT IT WILL HAVE ON THE PEACE 
PROCESS AND THEIR FUTURE.  THE GOI IMPOSED A COMPLETE 
CLOSURE ON THE TERRITORIES--FOR AN INDEFINITE 
PERIOD--THAT ENSURED THAT MANY PALESTINIANS REMAINED IN 
THEIR HOMES, GLUED TO THEIR TELEVISIONS AND RADIOS 
LISTENING TO NEWS REPORTS.  MANY WERE UP LATE THE NIGHT 
OF THE KILLING, UNABLE TO SLEEP, AND THOSE AT BUSINESSES 
AND COFFEE SHOPS NOVEMBER 5 SPENT THE DAY DISCUSSING THE 
EVENT AND ITS EXPECTED IMPACT. 
 
4.  GAZA CIVIL POLICE CHIEF GHAZI JABALI SAID PA POLICE 
WERE NOT ALLOWING PALESTINIANS TO EXPRESS JOY AT THE 
KILLING OF RABIN, BUT ADDED THAT SO FAR NO CELEBRATIONS 
BROKE OUT, AND ONE THAT THREATENED TO OCCUR AT KHAN 
YUNIS WAS SQUASHED BY PA POLICE.  ON INSTRUCTIONS FROM 
ARAFAT, JERICHO PREVENTIVE SECURITY CHIEF JIBRIL RAJOUB 
MET WITH WEST BANK MAMAS LEADERS IN THE EARLY MORNING 
HOURS OF NOVEMBER 5 TO CONVEY ARAFAT'S WARNING THAT 
THERE WERE TO BE NO DISRESPECTFUL DEMONSTRATIONS IN THE 
STREETS.  RAJOUB SAID THAT MAMAS WAS TO CONVEY THE SAME 
MESSAGE TO THE PIJ.  BOTH RAJOUB AND WEST BANK PPF 
COMMANDER HAJ ISMAIL JABBER BELIEVED THE WEST BANK WOULD 
REMAIN QUIET, BUT THE POTENTIAL FOR INSTABILITY DEPENDED 
ON DEVELOPMENTS IN ISRAEL IN THE DAYS AND WEEKS AHEAD. 
 
5.  BETHLEHEM MAYOR ILYAS FREIJ WAS "TERRIBLY UPSET," 
SAYING HE KNEW RABIN AS A FRIEND.  HE COMMENTED ON WHAT 
COULD BE A "DISTURBING PHENOMENA IF EVERY LEADER WHO 
TRIES TO MAKE PEACE IN THE REGION IS THREATENED WITH 
GUNS."  JENIN MAYOR WALID ABU MUWAYZ SAID JENIN 
RESIDENTS ARE SADDENED BY THE KILLING AND HOPE IT WILL 
NOT AFFECT THE SCHEDULE FOR REDEPLOYMENT IN THEIR TOWN. 
NABLUS MAYOR GHASSAN SHAKA SAID IT WAS A SAD DAY FOR 
NABLUS, AND HE HOPES RABIN'S DEATH WILL NOT HAVE A 
CATASTROPHIC EFFECT ON THE PEACE PROCESS.  FATAH 
SUPPORTER AZZAM AL-ARAJ IN TULKAREM SAID THE PEOPLE 
THERE ARE SHOCKED AND SADDENED, EVEN THE YOUNG ACTIVISTS 
AT AN-NAJAH UNIVERSITY WHERE HE TEACHES. 
 
 
ARAFAT, PA OFFICIALS SHAKEN, SADDENED BY THE NEWS 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
6.  PA OFFICIALS PUBLICLY EXPRESSED THEIR SADNESS AND 
SHOCK TOWARDS THE ATTACK AND SENT CONDOLENCES TO THE 
ISRAELI PEOPLE, AND FLAGS AT PA BUILDINGS WERE AT HALF 
MAST.  YASIR ARAFAT, LOOKING VISIBLY SHAKEN AND SPEAKING 
HALTINGLY AND QUIETLY, SAID PUBLICLY NOVEMBER 4 THAT HE 
WAS "VERY SAD AND VERY SHOCKED BY THIS TERRIBLE CRIME, 
AGAINST A GREAT ISRAELI LEADER AND AN ARCHITECT OF 
PEACE.  IN THE NAME OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE, I SEND MY 
CONDOLENCES TO MRS. RABIN, HER FAMILY, THE ISRAELI 
GOVERNMENT AND THE ENTIRE ISRAELI PEOPLE.  I HOPE WE 
WILL SUCCEED IN OVERCOMING THIS TRAGEDY, WHICH IS A BLOW 
TO THE PEACE PROCESS."  ARAFAT'S JERICHO OFFICE DIRECTOR 
SAMI MUSALLAM SAID ARAFAT WAS VERY UPSET BY THE 
ASSASSINATION, AND HAD NOT SEEN HIM IN SUCH A STATE 
SINCE THE ASSASSINATIONS OF ABU JIHAD AND ABU IYAD. 
OTHER PA OFFICIALS, INCLUDING MILITARY LEADERS, WERE 
ALSO UPSET, SAYING THE REGION HAD LOST A GREAT MAN OF 
PEACE AND CALLING THE KILLING A DISASTER AND A 
CATASTROPHE.  MANY OF THE PALESTINIAN POLITICAL, 
SECURITY, AND ECONOMIC FIGURES VOICED A SENSE OF RELIEF 
THAT THE ASSASSIN WAS NOT PALESTINIAN. 
 
 
WORRIES ABOUT THE FUTURE, IMPACT ON THE PEACE PROCESS 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
7.  ALL PALESTINIANS EXPRESSED ANXIETY ABOUT THE EFFECT 
OF THE KILLING ON THE PEACE PROCESS.  PA MINISTER OF 
LOCAL AFFAIRS SA'EB ERAKAT SAID "WE HAVE AN AGREEMENT, 
BUT OBVIOUSLY THIS COULD AFFECT IMPLEMENTATION."  HE 
EXPRESSED CONCERN ABOUT THE PHENOMENON OF THE ISRAELI 
RIGHT WING'S VIOLENCE IN OPPOSING THE PEACE PROCESS AND 
WONDERED HOW THAT WILL EFFECT CO-EXISTENCE BETWEEN THE 
TWO PEOPLES AND WHAT SUCH EXTREMISTS HAVE IN STORE FOR 
PALESTINIANS DURING IMPLEMENTATION OF THE INTERIM 
AGREEMENT AND ELECTIONS.  HE SAID PALESTINIANS CONTINUE 
TO MOVE FORWARD ON PREPARATIONS FOR PALESTINIAN 
ELECTIONS.  (NOTE:  THE PA CABINET YESTERDAY CONFIRMED 
THE JANUARY 20 ELECTION DATE.) 
 
8.  HEBRON UNIVERSITY PUBLIC RELATIONS DIRECTOR NABIL 
ABU ZNEID EXPRESSED THE CONCERN OF MANY PALESTINIANS 
WHEN HE SAID THE VOID LEFT BY RABIN MAY BE IMPOSSIBLE TO 
FILL.  HE FELT THE CURRENT PEACE PROCESS WAS LESS A 
PEACE BETWEEN PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS BUT MORE A PEACE 
BETWEEN ARAFAT AND RABIN.  OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS THE 
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TWO HAD GRADUALLY GROWN 
STRONGER AND MORE TRUSTING, AND THE TWO HAVE MADE BRAVE 
DECISIONS FOR PEACE.  HE SAID "WE'VE LOST A GREAT MAN," 
AND LAMENTED THAT THERE IS NO OTHER ISRAELI LEADER AT 
THIS TIME WITH RABIN'S PRO-PEACE ATTITUDE COUPLED WITH 
MILITARY EXPERTISE AND KNOW-HOW. 
 
9.  WEST BANK FATAH AND BUSINESS LEADERS WERE ALSO 
SHOCKED AND PESSIMISTIC ABOUT THE FUTURE WITHOUT RABIN. 
HIGHER COUNCIL MEMBER AHMAD AD-DEEK AND RAMALLAH LEADER 
HUSSEIN ASH-SHEIKH ARE AFRAID HIS DEATH MARKS THE END OF 
THE PEACE PROCESS.  THEY FEAR THE PROCESS WILL BE 
SUSPENDED UNTIL THE NEXT ISRAELI ELECTION.  PADICO 
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AMIN HADDAD SAID "WE ALL BELIEVE THIS 
IS A HUGE LOSS TO THE PEACE PROCESS; NO PALESTINIAN WHO 
IS THOUGHTFUL IS REJOICING."  CAIRO AMMAN BANK REGIONAL 
MANAGER YUSUF BAZIAN SAID "ISRAELIS MAY HESITATE EVEN 
MORE ABOUT TAKING DIFFICULT STEPS THAT THEY MUST TAKE; 
MOREOVER, THEY MAY WONDER IF PEACE IS WORTH THE PRICE." 
 
10.  MANY PALESTINIANS ALSO WORRIED ABOUT THE INTERNAL 
SITUATION INSIDE ISRAEL, AND WERE INCREDULOUS THAT THE 
KILLING HAS PERPETRATED BY AN ISRAELI.  HADDAD SAID THE 
ASSASSINATION INDICATES THAT "ISRAEL HAS TRULY JOINED 
THE MIDDLE EAST."  ANIS AL-QAQ, DEPUTY MINISTER IN THE 
MINISTRY OF PLANNING, WONDERED IF ISRAEL WOULD COME 
TOGETHER OR FRACTURE FURTHER OVER THE LOSS OF RABIN. 
"MANY OF US WHO KNOW ISRAEL BELIEVE THE PRIDE OF ISRAELI 
DEMOCRACY AND SENSE OF MORAL CERTAINTY WAS ALSO SHOT 
YESTERDAY." 
 
11.  MANY FEAR PERES IS NOT STRONG ENOUGH TO HOLD ISRAEL 
OR THE PEACE PROCESS TOGETHER.  SAMI MUSALLAM, DIRECTOR 
OF ARAFAT'S OFFICE IN JERICHO, SAID THAT ALTHOUGH PERES 
ENJOYS SUPPORT AMONG YOUNGER IDF OFFICERS, HE DOES NOT 
HAVE CLOSE RELATIONS WITH ANY OF THE CURRENT CLASS OF 
REGIONAL AND FORCE COMMANDERS.  THE PALESTINIANS ARE 
EXTREMELY WORRIED THAT PERES WILL NOT BE ABLE TO BRING 
THE MILITARY TO HEEL DURING REDEPLOYMENT, IN THE WAY 
RABIN HAD DONE.  THEY ARE WATCHING CLOSELY TO SEE WHO 
WILL BE NAMED MINISTER OF DEFENSE IN ROBIN'S STEAD. 
MUSALLAM SAID THAT AMNON SHAHAK WOULD BE FAR PREFERABLE 
TO EHUD BARAK, IN TERMS OF EACH MAN'S SUPPORT FOR THE 
PEACE PROCESS.  PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR HASSAN ASFOUR, 
HOWEVER, SAID THAT DURING THE NOVEMBER 4 PA CABINET 
MEETING, THE CABINET WISHED FOR AN ISRAELI LEADERSHIP 
"DREAM TEAM" MADE UP OF PERES AS PRIME MINISTER, EHUD 
BARAK AS DEFENSE MINISTER, AND HAIM RAMON AS FOREIGN 
MINISTER.  MANY PALESTINIANS FEAR THAT NETANYAHU WILL 
HAVE AN EASY TIME DEFEATING PERES IN FUTURE ELECTIONS. 
 
 
PALESTINIANS HOPE GOI WILL COCK DOWN ON ITS EXTREMISTS 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
12.  A COMMON REACTION AMONG PALESTINIANS WAS THAT 
RABIN'S MURDER WOULD HURT THE FAR-RIGHT OPPONENTS OF 
PEACE.  PALESTINE BUSINESSMEN'S ASSOCIATION LEADER HANI 
ABU DAYYEH SAID THE KILLING WOULD DISCREDIT THE 
FAR-RIGHT AND GIVE THE GOI THE CHANCE TO ACT AGAINST 
ISRAELI EXTREMISTS THAT "HAS MISSED AFTER THE HEBRON 
MASSACRE."   AL-QAQ COMMENTED THAT "ISRAEL HAS 
OVERLOOKED A TREND TOWARD VIOLENT FORCES ALLOWED TO 
OPERATE WITHIN ITS SOCIETY--THIS CAN NO LONGER BE 
IGNORED.  THIS IS THE MOST PAINFUL PRICE ISRAEL CAN PAY 
FOR ALLOWING PARTS OF THE SOCIETY TO ACT AS IF THEY WERE 
ABOVE THE LAW." 
 
13.  PPF POLICE CHIEF NASIR YUSIF SAID THE ASSASSINATION 
HAS A "CATASTROPHE" THAT WILL "NO DOUBT IMPOSE ON ALL 
THE NEED TO CONFRONT WITH ALL FIRMNESS EXTREMISM IN THE 
REGION."  GAZA PREVENTIVE SECURITY CHIEF MUHAMMAD DAHLAN 
SAID IT "SHOULD BE A LESSON FOR THE ISRAELIS TO SEE THE 
DANGER IN THEIR OWN EXTREMISTS."  FORMER PEACE TERMER 
NABIL KASSIS SAID IN ORDER TO LESSEN THE INFLUENCE OF 
THE EXTREMISTS, THE GOI IN GENERAL MUST WORK HARDER TO 
EDUCATE ITS PEOPLE ABOUT PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE WITH 
PALESTINIANS OTHER THAN VIEWING THEM ONLY AS A SECURITY 
THREAT.  WHILE BETHLEHEM MAYOR FREIJ HOPES THE 
ASSASSINATION WILL UNDERCUT THE CREDIBILITY OF THE 
ISRAELI EXTREMISTS, HE WORRIES THAT IT MAY INSTEAD MAKE 
THEM MORE AGGRESSIVE. 
 

MAMAS, PIJ RELATIVELY QUIET, FOR NOW 
------------------------------------ 
 
14.  MAMAS AND PIJ SUPPORTERS WERE GENERALLY QUIET, WITH 
PA SECURITY OFFICERS AND FATAH MEMBERS THROUGHOUT THE 
WEST BANK AND GAZA ENSURING THAT CELEBRATIONS WOULD NOT 
OCCUR.  TEL AVIV POLOFF SAW NO INDICATION OF EXTREMIST 
CELEBRATIONS IN GAZA.  SALAH SAKKA, A GAZA CITY COUNCIL 
MEMBER, SAID THAT THE MOOD LAST NIGHT IN KHAN YUNIS 
AMONG ISLAMISTS HAS HAPPY, BUT THERE WERE NO PUBLIC 
RALLIES, JUST BULLETS SHOT INTO THE AIR.  PA POLICE 
PRESENCE IN KHAN YUNIS HAS VERY HIGH.  PLO CHAIRMAN 
ARAFAT TOLD THE CG THAT STRICT ORDERS HAD GONE OUT TO 
PREVENT CELEBRATIONS, INCLUDING FIRING IN THE AIR. 
 
15.  IN HEBRON, SOME ISLAMIC SUPPORTERS FELT RABIN'S 
KILLING HAS AN EVENT WORTH CELEBRATING--SEEING IT AS AN 
END TO THE PEACE PROCESS--BUT DID NOT YET ACT ON THAT 
IMPULSE.  HEBRON LEADERS SAID THE CITY WAS COWLING WITH 
IDF SOLDIERS.  PALESTINIAN EXTREMISTS WERE ALSO HOPING 
RABIN'S MURDER WILL LEAD TO MORE DIVISIONS IN ISRAELI 
SOCIETY.  HAMAS FOLLOWERS IN TULKAREM REPORTEDLY 
CONSIDERED THE ASSASSINATION THE "ACT OF A COWARD." 
KHALIL SHIQAQI, RESEARCH DIRECTOR AT THE CENTER FOR 
PALESTINE RESEARCH AND STUDIES IN NABLUS AND BROTHER OF 
RECENTLY ASSASSINATED PALESTINE ISLAMIC JIHAD LEADER 
FATHI SHIQAQI, SAID THAT SOME OF THE RADICAL PALESTINIAN 
FACTIONS ARE SAYING THAT RABIN'S ASSASSINATION WAS "AN 
ACT OF GOD," IMPLYING THAT THEY WILL NOT HAVE TO AVENGE 
SHIQAQI'S DEATH. 
 
 
DELAYS EXPECTED, BUT PEACE PROCESS MUST CONTINUE 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
16.  MANY PALESTINIANS UNDERSTAND SOME DELAYS ARE TO BE 
EXPECTED IN THE PEACE PROCESS AS A RESULT OF ROBIN'S 
DEATH, BUT HOPE PRESIDENT CLINTON AND OTHER LEADERS WILL 
STRESS THE IMPORTANCE OF BRAVELY GOING FORWARD AT 
RABIN'S FUNERAL.  CAB REGIONAL MANAGER BAZIAN SAID 
PALESTINIANS MUST BE SMART AND "UNDERSTAND THE THE 
ISRAELIS WILL NEED TIME TO SORT THIS OUT.  WE SHOULD 
GIVE THEM THIS TIME, BUT INSIST ON OUR RIGHTS UNDER THE 
AGREEMENT."  WEST BANK PPF COMMANDER HAJJ ISMAIL 
REPORTED THAT HE HAD SPOKEN WITH IDF CENTRAL COMMAND MG 
ILAN BIRAN EARLIER IN THE DAY NOVEMBER 5 TO CONVEY HIS 
CONDOLENCES AND DISCUSS THE EFFECT OF THE ASSASSINATION 
ON PLANS FOR REDEPLOYMENT.  ANOTHER PPF CONTINGENT HAD 
BEEN SCHEDULED TO DEPART JERICHO FOR JENIN NOVEMBER 5; 
HAJ ISMAIL AGREED TO BIRAN'S REQUEST THAT ANY MOVEMENT 
ON REDEPLOYMENT BE POSTPONED FOR "A FEW DAYS."  HAJ 
ISMAIL DID NOT EXPECT THAT THE REDEPLOYMENT/DEPLOYMENT 
SCHEDULE WOULD BE UNDULY DELAYED BUT ECHOES MUSALLEM'S 
CONCERN THAT PERES MAY NOT BE ABLE TO MAKE THE IDF KEEP 
ITS REDEPLOYMENT COMMITTMENTS. 
 
ABINGTON 

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