ISRAEL, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Norway, Denmark, and Italy have formally signed an agreement to deploy a 160-member international group of unarmed observers in the West Bank town of Hebron.
The Danish foreign ministry, which hosted the ceremony May 2, said the 90 Norwegian, 35 Danish, and 35 Italian observers will travel to Israel on May 5 and then proceed to Hebron. Israel agreed to allow the observers into Hebron in a deal with the PLO following the shooting of about 30 Muslim worshipers in a Hebron mosque on Feb. 25 and stalling the peace process. Jobless Palestinians
SELF-RULE for Palestinians in parts of the West Bank and Gaza could set off an explosive rise in unemployment unless urgent steps are taken, the International Labor Organization said on May 2.
``We feel the greatest threat to the [Israel-Palestine] peace process after it is signed is the problem of unemployment,'' Shukri Zaki Dajani, ILO assistant director general for the Arab states, said in a telephone interview.
The peace accord creating Palestinian self-rule in Gaza and the West Bank town of Jericho was expected to be signed on May 4. In a report issued on May 2, the ILO noted that at least a quarter of the labor force in the occupied territories was out of work: joblessness exceeds 40 percent in Gaza. Mr. Dajani said the ILO is seeking $135 million to set up labor intensive infrastructure projects that would offer thousands of temporary jobs, as well as schemes to help small firms stay in business. It is also pushing for the establishment of Palestine offices to deal with unemployment.
The report, issued after an April 29 accord in Paris forging economic ties between the two Palestinian areas and Israel, says 26 years of Israeli rule has left the West Bank and Gaza in a ragged and dependent state. ``Both the economy and the labor market has been almost totally dependent on the Israeli economy,'' Dajani said.
The ILO called for setting up an emergency program to help some 12,000 former political prisoners return to work, and a rotating job-creation scheme that would offer about 15,000 temporary jobs a month.