From Tuesday's Globe and Mail, October 16, 2000, by MARK MACKINNON:
In East Jerusalem, residents say they would fight a handover to Abbas regime
JERUSALEM ...mayor of Ras Hamis, a Palestinian neighbourhood on the eastern fringe of this divided city, says that he can't think of a worse fate for him and his constituents than being handed over to the weak and ineffective Palestinian Authority right now.
"If there was a referendum here, no one would vote to join the Palestinian Authority," Mr. Gheit said, smoking a water pipe as he whiled away the afternoon watching Lebanese music videos. "We will not accept it. There would be another intifada [uprising] to defend ourselves from the PA."
In comments that are likely to stir fierce debate on both sides, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert suggested yesterday that Israel could relinquish several Arab areas on the periphery of East Jerusalem.....
Those who live in the neighbourhoods Mr. Olmert spoke of handing over are ... worried that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who is seen as weak and desperate for an achievement after losing control of the Gaza Strip to the Islamist Hamas movement, will accept the offer. They dislike the idea of their neighbourhoods, which are generally more prosperous than other parts of the West Bank, being absorbed into the chaotic Palestinian territories.
Mr. Gheit, with two posters of "the martyr Saddam Hussein" hanging over his cash register, can hardly be called an admirer of the Jewish state. But he says that an already difficult life would get worse if those living in Ras Hamis and the adjoining Shuafat refugee camp were suddenly no longer able to work in Israel, or use its publicly funded health system.
The 53-year-old said he'd be happy to one day live in a properly independent Palestinian state, but not one that looks anything like the corruption-racked and violence-prone areas that are split between the warring Hamas and Fatah factions. "I don't believe in these factions. I only believe in putting bread on the table for my children. I fight only for them. At least in Israel, there's law."....
Mr. Olmert is also under pressure from the United States to make concessions ahead of a peace conference that President George W. Bush is scheduled to host next month. However, hopes are fading fast for the November peace conference and Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported that it was likely to be postponed.