|Israel Resource Review
||11th May, 2005
Palestinian Prime Minister
Threatens Israel Over "Threats" to Al Aqsa
Dr. Michael Widlanski
The Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmad Qreia warned Wednesday that continuing Israeli threats to Islamic holy places would lead to a regional conflagration.
The Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmad Qreia warned Wednesday that continuing Israeli threats to Islamic holy places would lead to a regional conflagration.
Qreia's comments were addressed to the PA cabinet meeting, but they were widely covered in the PA's official media, overshadowing a softer message issued abroad by PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas calling for living alongside Israel after it met all Palestinian demands.
"Prime Minister Ahmad Qreia told the cabinet that continued Israeli threats to Al-Aqsa are going to lead to an explosion," official Palestinian television reported Wednesday afternoon.
The tough tone of Prime Minister Qreia (who is also known by his
nickname Abu 'Ala) was sandwiched with several other firm
messages to Israel, and one warning to HAMAS not to make verbal
attacks on PA officials:
- Earlier Wednesday morning, PBC television ran a four-minute music video film montage depicting blind-folded and bound Palestinian prisoners being mistreated by Israeli jailers;
- Palestinian television also demonstratively repeated again today , at least three times, the broadcast of remarks by PLO Executive member Zakaria Agha that the Palestinians would not make peace without fulfillment of the Palestinian refugees' demands to "return to the homes from which they were evicted" in 1948;
- Both Palestinian television and Voice of Palestine (V.O.P.) radio issued warnings to the HAMAS movement about attacking Interior Minister Nasser Youssef, hinting at Hamas insinuations of corruption and voter fraud against the PA and the Fatah movement of Abbas and Qreia.
Fatah has been taken aback by its relatively narrow victory in local elections last week, and Abbas's PA has delayed publishing official results, hinting that it thinks there may have been fraud. But Hamas has retorted that the PA and Fatah controlled the elections and that they may be trying to juggle the results.
"The Interior Ministry strongly condemns the communiqué of the Hamas movement," V.O.P. radio announced.
Meanwhile, Palestinian newspapers such as Al-Quds followed the lead of the PA broadcast media in reporting Abbas's message, delivered at a Latino-Arab summit in Brazil, that he was ready for "a just peace" involving "living alongside Israel" after it had withdrawn from all territory conquered in 1967.
Dr. Abbas also criticized Israel for delaying the Gaza withdrawal for three weeks because of Jewish religious observances.
Abbas used the term ta'ayyush, meaning living in mutual respect,
which has been relatively rarely used in the official Palestinian lexicon.
This was the second time in two months that Abbas, making speeches abroad
has delivered a message with a softer tone than generally used inside the
In his February meetings, with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain and Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, respectively, Abbas used softer language, once even criticizing "suicide operations" (Arabic: 'amaliyyat intikhariyya)-a term almost never heard in the lexicon of the regimes of Abbas or Yasser Arafat.
On the home front, Abbas has been keeping the issue of Palestinian prisoners in the forefront of public opinion, asserting that the PA is demanding the release of all Palestinian prisoners and convicted terrorists, beginning with a group of 400.
Israel has already released 500 of 900 convicts it promised to release, and several of them were then caught in renewed terror activity, according to Israel. This fact and other continued Palestinian rocket and attempted suicide bomb attacks have convinced the Israeli government to halt prisoner releases.
For Abbas, however, the prisoner question is a winning issue and a unifying factor that can help him in upcoming national elections, and it is not surprising to see PA television and Palestinian newspapers like Al-Quds devoting films and cartoons to the issue.
Al-Quds cartoon showing prisoner files in chains, symbolic of the issue of prisoner release that is important for PLO/PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Meanwhile, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda offers a two-pronged cartoon concerning the Sharon decision to delay the withdrawal from Gaza. The cartoon shows Sharon having a nightmare in which Hamas's late leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin appears and says with a smile: "Now give me one reason to delay the withdrawal." This is a heavy hint that Hamas may re-start human bomb attacks, which Hamas says are the real reason Israel is withdrawing from Gaza.
Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, May 11, 2005
Report compiled by Michael Widlanski Associates.
Commissioned by the Center for Near East Policy Research.
[Permission to quote or reprint from article conditional on
citing Michael Widlanski or Michael Widlanski Associates.]
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The Next Intifada
As Outlined in the PA Media
Special Israel Resource News Agency Monograph
The Palestinian Authority appears to be preparing its people for a
resurgence of violence. The PA media have been full of dire warnings of a U.S.
betrayal of the Palestinian cause and the need to recruit Palestinians for a
massive uprising. Many commentators in the Palestinian media view the plan by
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to withdraw unilaterally from the Gaza Strip and
northern West Bank as part of an effort approved by the Bush administration for
Israel to maintain control over more than half of that area. This assessment
has been echoed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who himself warns of the
likelihood of renewed violence should a Palestinian state fail to be
established in all areas of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem.
The Palestinian media have written little about the expected summit
between Abbas and President George Bush. As of May 11, the Bush administration
has not announced a date or venue for the meeting. But Palestinian commentators
don’t expect the talks to be easy. They envision Bush telling Abbas that the PA
must implement reform of the security agencies, collect weapons from
Palestinian terrorist groups and end violence against Israel. At the same time,
Bush was expected to provide vague promises of a Palestinian state.
Commentators as well as advisers to Abbas warn that this would not satisfy the
Palestinian leadership. Some are calling on Abbas to organize an uprising in advance
of or during any U.S.-Palestinian summit.
Al Quds, May 3, 2005
Al Quds, April 27, 2005
A. A Very
The Palestinian media has hardly dealt with Abbas’s visit to Washington.
There have been few news stories and even fewer commentaries. Most of the focus
has been on Palestinian legislative elections and the rivalry between Hamas and
the ruling Fatah movement. On April 22, Al Quds ran a small item on its front
page that Bush would meet Abbas in mid-May, according to sources in Washington.
The meeting would be either in Washington or Camp David. 
Later, Information Minister Nabil Shaath filled in the details. Shaath
said a PA delegation has arrived in Washington to plan Abbas’s visit to the
United States. He termed the visit as very important, particularly after the
talks by Sharon with Bush in April and his support of the Israeli prime
minister. Shaath said the White House was open to the prospect of a positive
meeting between Abbas and Bush. 
Since then, Palestinian newspapers have outlined Palestinian grievances,
with support from U.S. diplomats. The human rights head of the U.S. Consulate
in Jerusalem reported on an increase in settler attacks on Palestinians in
2005. In a presentation of human rights report in the Palestinian territories,
Mark Mollinger cited an increase in settler attacks in Hebron. Mollinger also
reported an increase in settler attacks on American peace activists. The
consular official said Israeli authorities have not taken legal action against
the settlers. 
For his part, Abbas has been wary of an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza
Strip. He has stressed that the Israeli withdrawal must be part of a road map
without "any thought that Gaza be separated from the West Bank.”
"We want a smooth withdrawal from Gaza Strip and the details will
discussed with the Israelis and the Americans, with whom we will talk about
a whole range of issues including funding, security political and military
aid as America is a partner of the Quartet,” Abbas said. 
Hayat Al Jadida, May 2, 2005
Hayat Al Jadida, April 27, 2005
B. Fear Over
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has expressed concern over the meaning
of a Gaza withdrawal. The Foreign Ministry issued a document that expressed
fear that an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip would mean the end of
Palestinian contact with the West Bank and the end of the road map. 
Palestinian commentators have expressed concern that Abbas would meet a
U.S. president already influenced by criticism relayed earlier by Sharon. They
said Sharon complained to Bush that Abbas is not a Palestinian partner and has
failed to carry out his commitments to the United States.
The Palestinian media regard Bush as being under pressure from Congress.
Congress has been examining a bill that would prevent U.S. recognition of a
Palestinian state until the United States recognizes a united Jerusalem as the
capital of Israel. Palestinian commentators view this as a way to torpedo
Abbas’s visit to the United States and Bush’s vision of a Palestinian state.
The commentators see the U.S. pressure on the PA for security reform as
a means to weaken Abbas. One commentator advised Abbas and the rest of the
Palestinian leadership to use all means to improve the PA position and bring
pressure on Israel. 
Abbas was said to have been concerned of Bush’s purported agreement to
Israeli settlement blocs in the West Bank. Jack Khazmo, a leading commentator
with close ties to the PA leadership, accused Bush of siding with Sharon
against the Palestinians and United Nations Security Council resolutions.
According to Khazmo, Bush has recognized eastern Jerusalem as part of Israel.
C. Bush Loses
As a result, the Bush administration has lost credibility in the Arab
world. Commentators said the administration has merely angered Arabs with its
promotion of democracy. Indeed, the feeling is that Washington exploited the
democracy and freedom issue to advance U.S. interests. When U.S. interests are
not served, the democracy issue is dropped. 
television went further and sought to portray the United States as seeking to
conquer the Arab world. PA television broadcast sermons from Friday prayers in
the leading mosque in Gaza City that portrayed a U.S. and Western plot against
the Palestinians. Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris declared in his weekly sermon in late
April that Israel and the United States intend to occupy Arab and Islamic
Al Hayat Al
Jadida, May 1, 2005
"Our enemies want to occupy Arab and Islamic lands, under their
leadership," Mudeiris said. "Our enemy has become strong and fed on
us like prey in our lands, in the East and in the West, because we are weak,
and our only strength lies in the Koran.” 
D. U.S. Uses
Democracy to Extort
It is a message that has been reinforced in Palestinian dailies.
PA-financed publications regard the U.S. promotion of democracy in the Middle
East as a lever for extortion from oil rich countries. They see the United
States as using democracy to stir unrest against Gulf Arab regimes. In one
cartoon, Uncle Sam shouts pro-democracy slogans in a bullhorn held in one hand
while the other hand holds a large container. In the next frame, an Arab pumps
oil through the bullhorn, now used as a flask, and into the container. 
PA spokespeople have warned the Palestinians not to press for rapid reform.
Shaath told a Gaza conference on reform that any change would be gradual and
that the process would be supervised by parliament. He said reform must include
measures against corruption while stressing that nothing could be implemented
that would endanger national unity. 
Still, the United States regards reform as the leading requirement of
the PA. American visitors who have met Abbas have pressed this condition at
Ayam, April 28, 2005
E. Frist Praises
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist met Abbas and expressed satisfaction
with steps taken by the PA. Frist called Abbas a “brave leader who is committed
to reform. He has shown tremendous leadership. I commended the president for
his strong leadership, for his commitment to the Palestinian people and to his commitment
to reforms. It's been a pleasure to be here today to express the support of the
[U.S.] president and his Cabinet. 
But this has not been enough for Abbas. He has been under tremendous
pressure from Fatah and the opposition to exploit American goodwill for
strategic concessions from Israel. Indeed, Palestinian sources have reported
that Fatah operatives have threatened to assassinate Abbas in a ploy to cancel
elections sought by the United States. 
Palestinians have pointed to the visit of Russian President Vladimir
Putin to Ramallah. Putin offered Abbas Mi-17 helicopters, BRDM-2 infantry
fighting vehicles and munitions without strings attached. Putin did not discuss
democracy or demand reform.
Once again, however, the Americans intervened. Shaath criticized the
U.S. objection to the transfer of Russian weapons to the PA. The PLO Executive
Committee condemned the Israeli objection to Russian weapons to the PA and
called this a violation of the understandings at Egypt’s Sharm e-Sheik in February
Al Quds, April 26, 2005
Quds, April 26, 2005
Ayam, April 29, 2005
II. The Response
A. Uprising as a
Abbas has made it clear that he would not accept U.S. dictates and that
any solution unacceptable to the Palestinians would result in violence. During
the Frist visit, Abbas warned that the Palestinians would not accept anything
less than an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders. PA officials have also
stressed that the Palestinian leadership would not cede on their demand for the
right of Palestinians to return to their homes in what is now Israel. 
A proposal that has received exceptional attention was submitted by
Bassam Abu Sharif, the former longtime adviser to the late Yasser Arafat. Abu
Sharif has long been close to the United States and regarded as a leading
strategist and an informal adviser to Abbas and the Palestinian leadership.
Abu Sharif, in articles published in several Palestinian dailies, has
called for a massive uprising by Palestinians against Israel in an attempt to
resist U.S. pressure. As Abu Sharif sees it, Bush has promised Sharon too much
to willingly side with the Palestinians. The only thing that could break the
deadlock is Palestinian violence, what Abu Sharif terms a “popular peaceful
uprising,” to prevent the Israeli annexation of lands of the West Bank. 
“The tasks facing the members of Palestinian organizations, especially
Fatah and Hamas and the organizations whose representatives form the majority
of the PLO leadership, focus first and foremost on resisting the occupation and
establishing a state on Palestinian lands occupied in 1967 and not on the
distribution of security and civil positions,” Abu Sharif writes. “Resisting
the swallowing up of lands is not only possible, but vital and a national duty.
This can be done by rallying thousands from the members of the organization
that dominate the PLO and the general public to carry out continued
demonstrations and sit-ins at the locations of annexations in full view of the
B. Israel Seeks
Abu Sharif shares the view that Sharon plans to cede the Gaza Strip in
exchange for U.S. support of annexation of 48 percent of the West Bank. He said
Israel also plans to maintain control over the Jordan Valley.
The annexation would focus on several key areas of the West Bank. The
first area would be the Israeli city of Ariel, southwest of Nablus. Abu Sharif
sees this move as ensuring water and strategic depth for Israel.
The second area of Israeli annexation would be Latrun, between Jerusalem
and Tel Aviv. Abu Sharif points to the Israeli construction of 27,000 units
meant to house 500,000 people.
The third area is Maalei Adumim, east of Jerusalem. Abu Sharif regards
this effort as seeking to ensure Israeli control of the area northwest of
Jerusalem up to the Dead Sea. Already, he said, Israel has begun construction
of border points in these areas, particularly the Kalandia crossing, in
northern Jerusalem. 
Quds, May 2, 2005
C. Bush to Ask Abbas
Abu Sharif sees Bush as prepared to express warm words to Abbas, but
little else. Abu Sharif envisions that Bush would ask Abbas to demonstrate
patience until the Israeli withdraws from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005.
Bush would urge Abbas to live with Israeli settlement blocs in the West Bank
even as the American president reiterates his support for a Palestinian state.
Sharif said Abbas must not mince words during his meeting with Bush. Abbas must
demand that Bush to stop the Israeli annexation plan and stop pressuring the
PA. Abbas must reject any effort to reform the security agencies without
Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. Abu Sharif envisions a scenario that
Bush would tell Abbas that Israel could not be expected to withdraw to the 1967
It is expected that Bush would ask Abu Mazen to be patient until the
Israelis begin the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Abu Sharif said Bush would
argue that Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip would constitute a precedent
that could be followed in the West Bank in the framework of the road map.
“The effort must begin with a strong conviction that without mass
resistance by the people against the annexation and expansion plan, the Israeli
government will not be stopped and the U.S. administration will not be forced
to make an effective move,” Abu Sharif writes. “We say yes to negotiations and
the political process in a serious manner. But negotiations will not begin
seriously unless the peaceful mass resistance by the people against the
annexation, the expansion and the wall.”
D. Israel Will
Again Be Isolated
Abu Sharif envisions Abbas as leading an uprising against Israel with
the Jewish state responding with “terrorist force and organized fire.” The
Israeli response would lead to massive Western pressure on Israel that would
isolate the country and embarrass the United States. As a result, the Israeli
people and American Jews would protest against the Sharon government. 
Such an uprising constitutes a no-lose proposition, Abu Sharif said. It
would bolster the Palestinian stand, reverse the pro-Israeli policies of the
United States and strengthen Abbas. As Palestinian violence rages back home,
Abbas could be tough with the American president. “The peaceful Palestinian
uprising will rally Palestinian forces again under the leadership of Abu
Mazen,” Abu Sharif said. “It will increase the influence of the Palestinian
position and provide the PA with benefits to exert pressure absent amid the
Abu Sharif wants Bush to change his policy and act as a previous U.S.
president. The president was Dwight Eisenhower, who forced Israel to withdraw
from the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip in 1957 without any conditions. Bush,
like Eisenhower, must resist Congress and ensure the establishment of a viable
geographically contiguous independent Palestinian state.
E. Sharon Is Afraid
“Washington needs Palestinian and Arab pressure to stand up to Congress
and to confront powers whose interests are tied to Israel. Sharon is afraid of
such steps. Therefore, in the first time in four years, he has decided to
attend the AIPAC conference and meet leaders of the American Jewish community
in May to stir up these groups. He knows that the Bush administration is capable
of moving in a direction different from that of Bush’s first term.
“American decision-making now stems from the interests of the major
economic cartels in the United States,” Abu Sharif said in a message to Abbas.
“It stems from the interests of America and not from the positions of
neoconservatives as was the case in the past. Your excellency, be decisive and
you will see an active U.S. position. The way to this is a peaceful uprising.”
It appears that Abbas has been listening. Following a two-hour meeting
with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 29, Abbas warned that without a
“political horizon” toward Palestinian independence, new violence could erupt.
The Palestinian Authority leadership and particularly Abbas are in a
weaker position than ever and appear ready to resort to the same violent
solutions employed by Arafat. The pressure on Abbas is to wait no more than a
few months to approve a massive uprising. Abbas is expected to delay any
uprising until at least after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. At
the same time, he has demonstrated little control over Fatah or his security
This report was based on a review of the Palestinian media from April 22
to May 8. It included monitoring of the leading Palestinian newspapers,
magazines and Palestinian Authority radio and television. Al Quds is the
largest Palestinian daily and according to Information Minister Nabil Shaath
has received financing from the PA. Al Ayam and Al Hayat Al Jadida are owned by the PA. A-Bayadar is a
privately-owned publication with close ties to Fatah.
- Al Quds. April 22, 2005. Pg. 1
- Al Quds. April 28, Pg. 2
- Al Quds April 22, 2005. Pg. 7
- Palestinian dailies and the Palestinian news
agency Wafa, April 26, 2005
- Al Ayam. April 26. Pg. 1
- Al Ayam. April 26 Pg. 22. Op-Ed by Rahab Abu
- A-Bayadar Al Siyassi, April 25, Jack Khazmo,
- PA television. April 22
- Al Hayat Al Jadida. May 1. Pg. 23
- Al Ayam. May 1. Pg. 6
- Al Hayat Al Jadida. May 1. Pg. 1
- A-Sharq, Qatari newspaper. May 2
- Al Ayam. May 1. Pg. 1
- PLO Executive Committee member Zakaria Agha, PA
television May 10, 2005
- Al Quds. April 28 Pg. 19
- Abu Sharif’s analysis was also published in a
supplement called Al Democraty in Al Hayat Al Jadida. Abu Sharif was cited
as chief editor of Al Democraty, available on www.palestineone.com
- Al Democraty. May 2005 issue. Pg. 8
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