|Israel Resource Review
||17th January, 2003
Special Israel Resource Report:
The Palestinian Authority's Media Views Israel's
Publicly, the Palestinian Authority has repeated that it has not
intervened in Israel's current election campaign. But the Palestinian
media, licensed and controlled by the PA, have increasingly focused on the
elections and published numerous news items and interviews of Palestinian
officials who comment on developments in the Israeli campaign. The PA,
through the media it owns and controls, has already chosen its favorite
candidates. The PA has raised hopes that its current nemesis,
Ariel Sharon, will be defeated on January 28.
The PA-controlled media have been trumpeting the line that Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon could lose the elections because of the current
accusation that he accepted an illegal loan from a South African
businessman. As a result, Sharon has lashed out at the Palestinians, hoping
that he could divert public attention through an escalation of attacks on
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The rash of suicide missions
in Israel, including the double bombing in Tel Aviv on January 5 in which 23
people were killed, is not mentioned.
'Sharon Seeks to Cover Up Corruption'
The PA-owned Al Hayat Al Jadida has employed the most strident tone of
all of the Palestinian dailies in reporting and interpreting the Israeli
election campaign. A typical edition is that of January 13. Al Hayat contains
numerous articles by various officials that accuse Sharon of ordering an
escalation of attacks in fear that he will lose the election. The
newspaper's front page contains such charges by PA International Cooperation
Minister Nabil Shaath. Page 2 contains virtually an identical headline in a
story that reported the views of Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for PA
Chairman Yasser Arafat. The page one story, written by staffer Samir Khamto,
is entitled: "Dr. Shaath: The Israeli Escalation Aims to Cover Up for
Corruption in the Sharon Government." The page 2 article, by the official
Palestinian news agency Wafa, is entitled "Abu Rudeineh: The Continuation of
the Israeli Escalation Aims to Cover Up the Corruption of the Likud Party."
The coverage of Israel's elections continues on subsequent pages: On
Page 3, a column by Hassan Al Kashf is headlined: "Sharon Wins a Million
[dollars]" and asserts that "Sharon already gained a million . . . and already
is losing the prime ministership."
Arafat Said to Agree to Limited Cease-fire
The PA media have reported heavily on efforts by the Arafat regime to
achieve an agreement for some sort of suspension of attacks against Israel
over the next few weeks of the Israeli campaign. On January 14, The PA daily Al
Ayam reported that Arafat has relayed his approval for an Egyptian plan
discussed with all Palestinian factions over the last month. The plan calls
for a temporary and limited ceasefire against Israel.
Palestinian sources said the plan calls for an end to attacks on Israeli
civilians in Israel. The cease-fire does not include attacks on Israeli
soldiers or civilians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip or eastern Jerusalem.
The plan was drafted by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.
Suleiman has been meeting with Arafat's ruling Fatah movement as well as
such Islamic opposition groups as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The Islamic groups have rejected the Egyptian proposal and threatened to
continue suicide missions in Israel. For its part, Fatah has expressed both
support and opposition to the cease-fire plan, which includes a pledge to
continue the Palestinian struggle for an independent state with Jerusalem as
Al Ayam said Suleiman was to announce the cease-fire plan during a
conference on Palestinian reform, which took place in London on January 14.
Israel has banned Palestinian figures from attending the parley.
Abu Abbas: I Was Invited to Cairo
The Egyptian effort has drawn fire from critics in the United States.
Washington has investigated reports that Palestine Liberation Front chief
Mohammed Abbas, convicted of seizing a cruise ship in 1985 and ordering the
killing of an elderly American, was in Cairo for the dialogue last week.
The State Department said Egypt has refused to confirm the report of
Abbas's presence in Cairo. But on January 14 the London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat
daily quoted Abbas in an interview as saying he left Egypt last week amid
U.S. complaints. Abbas said he had been invited by the Egyptian government
to the Palestinian reconciliation dialogue and stressed that he was not
asked to leave.
"I took a decision to leave Egypt after I was told by my Egyptian
brothers that my security was being targeted," Abbas said. "I was informed
of U.S. pressure and fear that my personal security was being targeted."
The PA-owned media have been oblique in calls for a ceasefire. The media
usually attributed the effort to Egypt and the European Union, which are
sponsoring the Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo. Instead, PA
officials have discussed the cease-fire effort in the Egyptian media. On January
13, PA Information Minister Yasser Abbed Rabbo told the official Middle East
News Agency Palestinian factions must exercise self-restraint in an effort
to stop Sharon from winning the Israeli elections. Abbed Rabbo said Sharon
plans to win the elections at the "expense of the Palestinian blood." He
said Sharon is trying to cover up on his personal, family and partisan
scandals by more killings and destruction.
PA Officials Express Support for Mitsna
Other PA officials have embraced Sharon's challenger, Labor Party
chairman Amram Mitsna. On the PA media carried a January 3 statement by
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat that welcomed a pledge by Mitsna to
resume negotiations with the PA without conditions. Erekat said he also was
pleased by Mitsna's pledge to deal with any elected president of the
Palestinian people, a reference to Yasser Arafat. Erekat stressed that an
agreement to resume negotiations from where they ended in 2001 under the
previous government of Prime Minister Ehud Barak is a cornerstone of any
future peace effort.
Arafat's longtime adviser Bassam Abu Sharif has also joined the effort
to influence the Israeli electorate. He has been holding conferences and
publishing statements in the Palestinian media directed to the Israeli
voter. Abu Sharif, who during the1990s was a critic of Arafat and the PA,
issued a statement published by Palestinian newspapers on January 13 that
Sharon should take seriously Arafat's call for a limited cease-fire. He added
that the cease-fire proposal is limited to what he termed Israel's Green
Line, or the 1967 borders. He said such an agreement is a step toward an
end to all types of military violence and withdrawal by Israel from Palestinians towns and cities and the exploration of the issue with the Palestinian people for their democratic and legitimate rights for elections.
"I call on the Israelis to work with us for a secure and stable future,"
Abu Sharif said.
Abu Sharif: We Have Right to Influence Israeli Elections
Abu Sharif said the Palestinians have the right to influence Israel's
elections. He said Israeli political parties are in competition over who
"can come up with more severe methods to oppress the Palestinians and to
keep the suffocating Israeli occupations grip around their necks. If that is
the case and essence of the Israeli parties competition to win more votes,
why should the Palestinians not consider the results of these elections as
something that will drastically affect them, their livelihood, freedom and
"Taking these factors in the development and events in the election
programs, the Palestinians have every reason to be interested in the Israeli
elections, as well as the right in influencing the outcome by addressing the
Israeli voters," Abu Sharif added. "I ask the Israeli voter: Why not give
Peace a chance? Why is the future of Israel being dictated by colonialist [J
Jewish settlers], which came from Brooklyn to drag Israel into war?"
But Fatah leaders have objected to efforts to deny suicide missions by
the Arafat-led group. They protested orders by Arafat to deny the Fatah
claim of responsibility for the double suicide bombing mission in Tel Aviv
on January 5. They said the effort has demoralized the movement and bolsters
Islamic groups that falsely claim credit.
Fatah Leader: Arafat Should Not Have Denied Suicide Bombings
Fatah leader and Palestinian legislator Hussam Khader outlined his
movement's objection in an interview to the London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat on
January 11. Khader, who represents Nablus, the West Bank city where the suicide
bombers came from, said PA officials have prevented Fatah flags from flying
from the homes of the suicide bombers. Khader told the newspaper that while
he is against suicide missions for tactical reasons Fatah cannot ignore the
"It is not the right of any official to deny the execution of the
operation because of the results," Khader said. "This is especially because
in December, more than 73 Palestinian civilians were killed by the
occupation forces in absent of any suicide missions within the Green Line."
Khader said the Tel Aviv attack was the bloodiest by Fatah since 1978.
He said the Fatah denial of the attack is unprecedented. He said many Fatah
fighters are asking themselves "Why have they prevented the printing of
placards for these heroes who mocked the enemy entity?"
Fatah's Al Aqsa: Suicide Missions Will Continue
Indeed, the previous day, January 10, the Fatah-controlled Al Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades claimed responsibility for the double suicide bombing in Tel Aviv
on January 5 and promised to continue to carry out suicide attacks against
Israeli civilians. "The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades bless the families of the
two suicide bombers, Buraq Rifat Abdul Rahman Halfa and Samar Imad Mohammad
Ibrahim Alnouri, with pride and respect," the statement, carried by
Palestinian websites, said. "We bless our Palestinian people and the Arab
and Islamic faith in the double [suicide bombing] activities in Tel Aviv on
January 5, 2003. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades emphasize that they adhere to the
vow and commitment to martyrdom, to the prisoners, to the injured and to the
Palestinian people. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades proclaims that it will
continue with its Jihad activities until the removal of the occupation from
our land, no matter how many victims we suffer."
"The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades warns those who speak irresponsibly and
support programs of submission," the statement said. "Palestine is not
merchandise lying on a table that the mighty can divide as they please. The
false announcements denouncing the brave activities [the double suicide
bombing in Tel Aviv] do not represent the views of the Palestinian public
throughout Palestine and in the diaspora, as was expressed by their joy [for
the fact that the suicide bombing took place]."
Arafat Ups His Demands for Ceasefire
The opposition to the cease-fire from Fatah elements and the Islamic
opposition movement appears to have escalated the demands by the Arafat
regime amid a meeting between Fatah and Hamas expected in Cairo around January
20. This will be the first session by Fatah and Hamas in Cairo since
Palestinian newspapers owned by the PA reported details of the plan on
January 16. The plan calls for Israel to agree to a Palestinian state whose
borders were not defined. In addition, Israel must agree that it would only
negotiate with Arafat and not any other Palestinian.
The "cease-fire" being proposed would only take effect in Israel and not
include Israelis living or deployed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, PA
newspaper said. This means that Palestinian insurgents can continue attacks
on Israeli civilians and soldiers.
The Al Ayam daily also said Israel must first end all military
operations in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem before the
Palestinians stop attacks. The newspaper said Israel would also be required
to release Palestinian prisoners.
So far, Arafat has relayed to Egypt agreement with this document. Hamas,
however, has not responded.
Jerusalem Appears to be Next Target
The PA media have largely been silent on the debate within Fatah. But
the official media have indicated that Jerusalem would be the new target of
the Arafat regime. PA television has been running clips that warn of Israeli
threats to Jerusalem. The clips, which elaborate on Arafat's pledge to
prepare 1 million martyrs for Jerusalem, presented edited footage that
suggested an Israeli assault on the Al Aqsa mosque.
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The "Yesh Gvul" Rally in Jerusalem:
Prof. Zimmerman Invokes Himmler Comparison
Some 60 people attended a talk by Prof. Slavoj Z'izek, Professor of
Philosophy from the University of Lubliana, Slovenia, at a rally
sponsored recently by "Yesh Gvul" in Jerusalem.
Prof. Z'izek's topic was Citizenship and Responsibility--especially relevant to those Yesh Gvul members who have chosen to refuse to accept one obligation of their citizenship by refusing IDF orders to serve in areas beyond the 1949/67 armistice lines - Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Golan or Jerusalem
The evening was moderated by Prof. Moshe Zimmerman, professor of history and the head of the department for German Studies of the Hebrew University.
Zimmerman gained notoriety a number of years ago when he publicly equated
Jewish children from Hebron with Nazis. "There is an entire sector in the
Jewish public which I unhesitatingly define as a copy of the German Nazis.
Look at the children of the Jewish Hebron settlers: they are exactly like the Hitler Youth," Zimmerman stated in a 1995 interview.
Zimmerman wasted no time in setting visiting Prof. Zi'zek straight at the
Yesh Gvul meeting when Zi'zek responded to an audience question by
explaining, "I didn't mean to imply that your state is Nazi Germany."
Zimmerman replied: "That's my privilege as an Israeli . . ."
Zi'zek's talk was an engaging speech about the ethics of "my country, right
or wrong." Using examples from his own Balkan region, Zi'zek drew some
sympathetic comparisons with Israel. "You're nowhere near us in terms of
cruelty," he said, referencing unspeakable acts of the various forces of the
Balkan war. He called the actions of those who refuse to serve in the
Zi'zek made repeated references to rape--explaining that in interviews with
rape victims in the Balkans, most of the women said that the worst
humiliation was not the act itself, but the fact that it was committed in
front of family members.
Responding to his talk on behalf of Yesh Gvul was spokesperson Tally Gur.
(Gur also works as the spokesperson for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel)
"I've heard of some cases of rape" by IDF soldiers, she said. "I know there is some evidence of rape in the first intifada," she went on. "I hope there are not, but there are some cases in this current intifada too."
"But even the daily actions of the IDF in front of relatives plays a part
here. It's micro-political (sic) humiliation. We see it as very brutal and
systematic," Gur informed the visiting professor. "It's become part of the
Moving from the acts of soldiers to the acts of the government, Gur
concluded: "Israel does everything to violate the rights of those living in
the West Bank. She asks other states to put pressure to reform the Palestine Authority and then it bombs Arafat's compound. It's quite a game to play . . ."
Zi'zek responded by explaining his opposition to international intervention.
"I saw the fiasco of UN and US intervention (in the Balkans). They tried to
impose a multi-cultural solution--but the people simply hated each other . . ."
Gur said that there are other moral questions that people like her ask
themselves every day. We should be asking the police why they stop certain
people and not others like me? "Is it because they look a certain way?" she
Closing the evening, Zimmerman alluded to a reference made by Prof Zi'zek
about the November 1943 speech by Heinrich Himmler. "Bringing together the
Himmler speech with the question of citizenship was very audacious. We should take it up and think about it. It means the comparison [presumably between Nazi Germany and Israeli actions] is relevant . . ."
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