West Bank report: home-grown protest on rise

A newly released report by Israel's leading expert on the West Bank says the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the occupied territories has entered a new stage of intercommunal strife. The report was published last week by Meron Benvenisti, director of the West Bank Data-base Project, a research and documentation center on the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza strip.

The study notes an increase in locally initiated violent Palestinian protests as compared with planned guerrilla attacks directed from abroad. The trend toward spontaneous Palestinian resistance, which stems from intensified friction with the Jewish settler population and the Army, points to a transformation of the conflict into an ``internally generated endemic civil war,'' the report says. The concept of intercommunal conflict should replace the outmoded view that the Arab-Israeli strife is an interstate dispute, according to Mr. Benvenisti.

The rate of increase of the Arab population in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip shows that it will equal the Jewish population in those areas by the year 2010, the report says. There are currently about 1.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and some 67,000 Jewish settlers.

Israeli laws are being applied in piecemeal fashion to the settlements, and government services in the West Bank are being delivered separately to Jews and Arabs, the report says.

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