|Israel Resource Review
||28th December, 2000
Official Palestinian Authority Voice of Palestine Radio: Dec. 25
Summary and Analysis
Christmas morning on the Voice of Palestine was marked by three key
- Holiday comments of Latin Patriarch Michel Sabah;
- Palestinian protest at the retention of "the bodies of two exalted
martyrs" (including the man who set off a car-bomb in Mehola on Friday);
- Continued calls by "nationalist and Islamic forces" to continue
the intifada and for Palestinians to refuse to accept anything less than the full control of Jerusalem and the complete right of return for refugees.
VOP's broadcasts were also unusual in two ways: the news was somewhat
haltingly broadcast over the FM lines at 91.5 and then 103.4 with large
dollops of classical music, Western-style Christmas-"Muzak" with heaping
helpings of, believe it or not, jingle bells.
In the evening hours of Dec. 24 and in the morning Dec. 25, VOP (which
lost its AM-675 signal for unknown reasons) focused on the Israeli capture
of 13 or 14 Fatah agents in the village of Asira al-Shamaliyya, referring to it as "another example of Israeli escalation".
VOP also featured lengthy quotations from interviews with and/or
statements by negotiators Yasser Abd-Rabbo and Saeb Erikat, both of whom
said deep differences remained with Israel. Erikat and PA leader Yasser
Arafat also said Israeli press statements were designed to cause confusion
(Arafat) and unrest (Erikat) among the Palestinians.
Erikat said PA leaders were waiting for responses from other Arab leaders
before formalizing a response to the talks in Washington.
In a morning interview, PLO representative to Washington Hassan
Abdel-Rahman said the proposals plan offered by PresIdent Bill Clinton were
totally different from the earlier proposals at Camp David.
VOP featured (and embellished) Israeli reports that the Israeli tourism industry has been significantly hurt by the Intifada.
Christmas Morning Headlines
- "Latin Patriarch Michel Sabah says Christians are full members of
Palestinian society and deserve equal treatment and freedom: His comments
came in the Mass at Bethelehm attended by His excellency President Yasser
- Pope John Paul II, in a letter to believers, expresses concern for
dangerous situation in the Middle East, the status of the holy
places-especially Bethlehem-- and his concern about continued bloodshed in
- Occupation forces continue to retain the bodies of two exalted
martyrs who were martyred (as many as) four days ago: one of the martyrs
exploded himself near the colony of Mehola which was built on our citizens' land, as well as the body of Nejib Muhammad Abdo who was martyred four days ago;
- Occupation forces extend their aggression in Gaza and Betunia;
- In Dir al-Balah, occupation forces attacked populated houses with
- The nationalist and Islamic forces asserted that the unification and
integration of Palestinian Jerusalem-its people and its land-is the basis of a just and lasting peace. And in a communique issued last night it said that any attempt at partial solutions undermines the principles of the (Palestinian) revolution: the right of return, the right of
self-determination and the building of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital---(and such an attempt) is repudiated and declared null and void. And in its communque, the national and Islamic forces sent their congratulations to the people on the occasion of the Feast ('Id al-Fitr, ending Ramadan)..and Christmas and the Christian New Year, for continuing the revolution,calling for visits to the (graves of) the martyrs and their families,in keeping with national solidarity and the continuing Al-Aqsa Intifada.
- His Excellency President Yasser Arafat meets Egyptian President Husni
Mubarak in Cairo today to discuss developments in the area as Israel
continues its aggression against our people in the wake of the
Palestinian-Israeli talks in Washington under American sponsorship;
- The Israeli Bureau of Central Statistics said there was a sharp
drop in Israeli tourism in recent months under the pressure of the blessed
intifada of our people."
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Official Palestinian Authority Voice of Palestine Radio Broadcasts: Dec. 26
Summary and Analysis
VOP returned Tuesday to very careful coverage of the Clinton proposals
to the Palestinians and Israel in Washington. VOP is trying to navigate
between the hard line of Abu Ala (PA Speaker Ahmad Qreia who largely
dismissed the ideas) and the softer line of PLO representative in Washington Hassan Abdul-Rahman (who saw significant changes from Camp David).
The bottom line of Yasser Arafat's spokesman, Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, was
"yes, but" to the Clinton ideas. (His remarks followed-by about 10 hours-the TV interview of Ehud Barak in which the Israeli prime minister said thatIsrael would have a difficult time refusing Clinton's ideas, if the ideas were accepted by Arafat.)
At the same time, VOP continues to feature quasi-legal commentaries on
the importance of "the right of return" and its basis in UN resolutions 194
VOP reported that the PA Leadership spent much of yesterday reviewing the
negotiations and "continue to study American initiatives" for several
hours again today.
VOP accused Israel of planning-with extremist settlers-provocative acts
in Jerusalem, and it interviewed both Feisal Husseini (PLO Executive member, responsible for Jerusalem) and MK Muhammad Barakeh on what it said were strong rumors that Mayor Ehud Olmert would move his municipal offices to the Old City tomorrow. Husseini said the Palestinians were preparing for
this possibility, and would respond with force to any attempt to change the
"Arabness" of Jerusalem.
Elsewhere in the news programs, VOP featured Jerusalem Mufti Ikrema
al-Sabry in a call to prayer and to visits to the burial plots of the
martyrs and to visits to the martyrs' families. There was also an interview
with 'Isa Karaka, representative of the Palestinian prisoners, who described the difficult conditions of the prisoners and detainees, especially during the holiday period.
Once again, VOP featured lengthy quotations from a Palestinian leader
(this time, PA presidential secretary Ta'ib Abdel-Rahim) to the effect that
the "Independence Intifada" (what has become the preferred name for what was once the Al Aqsa Intifada) was a planned program by the Palestinian
leadership to achieve specific political goals. Abdel-Rahim's remarks were
first broadcast Monday afternoon and evening, but they were highlighted
again-as the top-of-the-hour feature-Tuesday morning.
Tuesday Morning Headlines (7:30-9:00 a.m.)
- "The Arab and Islamic world tomorrow celebrates Id-al-Fitr;
- The Leadership wishes holiday greetings to all citizens;
- Mufti Sheikh Ikrema al-Sabry calls for visits to martyrs and their
families and the wounded during the Feast;
- Feisal Husseini, holder of the Jerusalem portfolio (in the
Palestinian cabinet) says our people will respond with force to any attempt
by Israel to alter the Arab nature of Jerusalem;
- Under the leadership of President Yasser Arafat, the High Committee
on Negotiations will continue to study the American initiatives;
- President Yasser Arafat's advisor Nabil Abu-Irdeineh says that the
American ideas are not sufficient;
- Israeli occupation forces shell with artillery communities in
Zababdeh, Nablus, Sinjil, and Turmous Aya, wounding 17 citizens, several of them seriously;
- Presidential Secretary Taib Abdel-Rahim says the matter of an
international force and compulsory implementation of agreements are the only way for the peace process to get out its rut."
Quotes of the Day
"The Leadership has enough confidence in itself to say 'no' to any
agreement which does not serve the national interest, but it also has
enough confidence in itself and the people to say 'yes' if there is a real
opportunity and a historical moment a just and comprehensive peace."
(From remarks of Presidential Secretary Taib Abdel Rahim, quoted this
It is clear that the Israeli Right will take any provocation necessary
to thwart the peace process." (Israeli Arab MK Muhammad Barakeh, commenting on reports that Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert was planning to move his offices to the Old City tomorrow)
Interview with Yasser Abd-Rabbo (7:50-8:05am)
Q: "Is there beginning to appear an opinion among the Leadership on the
A: "Yes, we have received ideas from the American president. And these
ideas merit deep and extensive study, but they need great examination, and
it will be difficult in this short time period to reach final conclusions.
As of now, we only have preliminary observations. Part of our initial
perceptions is that some of these ideas were in Camp David and some of them
replace things that were in Camp David. That's why we have to consider
what are really new ideas..we have to see what about these so-called
'bridging proposals' from Camp David. When I was in Washington last week,
the Palestinian delegation made it clear that we could not return once
again to the same point we were at in Camp David: especially in regards to
the Shrine (Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount) and Jerusalem and regarding other
matters such as settlements and the matter of the refugees.
In some of these matters there is new material, and some this serves
Israel, especially, for example, the matter of security and the matter of
the refugees where Israel wants the nullification of any rights for the
Palestinian refugees... There is no balance in these things, and there has to be balance...
We also noticed that there is a breach (also tr: transgression) on
several main points on which the peace process is linked: the ideas of
international legitimacy, Jerusalem and the matters of land and the
settlements. Along with the idea of the Shrine there is the firming-up of
the settlements around Jerusalem, that is from the West Bank, this
'settlement Jerusalem' would become part of Israel (i.e. parts of
Jerusalem that were once Jordanian-controlled territory) that's five or six
percent of the homeland territory of the Palestinian people. We, really
cannot accept something of this kind. We have said our discussion is based
on the return to the June 4 1967lines, not on the existence of settlements
or settlement belts built afterwards."
Q: "Is there something new and positive in the American proposals?"
A: "There are some things that might make a new start, but there are a lot
generalities which require clarification. For example, the use of
international forces and the implementation of agreements..We need Israel to be required to carry out what it has agreed to..They have used every style of language to get around certain points (on the Haram al-Sharif/ Temple Mount shrine) such as 'sovereignty on the land' 'sovereignty over the land' for us and 'sovereignty under the land' for Israel. And so on. And on this matter, they want matters to go back to the beginning. We warned about this kind of thing. ..This is part of the Jerusalem problem. This is not part of Christmas gifts..This is five or six percent of the territory, territory of the homeland, which we consider part of our national homeland.
That is why I said it requires more study in the (PLO) Executive Committee,
the Palestinian Institutions. There are also security elements to these
questions. Also, these are questions that affect the region in its
entirety. Such as Jerusalem and the refugees.We cannot accept a solution for the refugees that is not based on international legitimacy."
Q: "Is it then fair to say that it is very difficult to accept the American
A: "I want my words to be understood clearly. .These proposals have some good points, but they also have a return to Camp David. .That's why we need more time to study inside the Palestinian institutions and for discussion with Arab parties and concerned parties. The subject is the final solution; the subject is an important regional issue.revolving around the issue of refugees, borders, security, Jerusalem..
The ending of the conflict, the ending of the conflict (he repeated
for emphasis) must be based on a general agreement based on these ideas
and principles, and every item of it must reach agreement, must be
discussed and negotiated. With all these details. Is it possible to find
an end to the conflict based on this?
After reaching these agreements, perhaps (can one) include the Arab
countries such as fraternal Syria and Lebanon in a regional accord, in a
comprehensive solution in which the sponsoring countries (i.e. those giving
aid) can participate directly."
Q: "So we need more time and discussion for a dialogue on the proposals.?"
A: No, it's not just details.It's bringing this to th einstitutions of the
Palestine Liberation Organization..We need as I s a id deep and extensive
study.because this is something that involves our national fate. This
is one of the most important pieces of paper in our history. We have to
discuss with our fraternal Arab states, because these ideas have regional
ramifications, and we cannot surprise our Arab brothers-those close and far
geographically-by accepting or not accepting ideas without a complete
dialogue with them."
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Official Palestinian Authority Voice of Radio Broadcasts; Dec. 27
Summary and Analysis
VOP reported that the Palestinian Leadership-the Executive Committee of
the PLO-would discuss the American plan some more this evening, with a view
to giving a response soon.
Throughout the day there were hints and nuances which indicated that the PA is facing growing disquiet from the refugee community and the Islamic establishment as well as Arab states.
Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erikat said in a VOP interview that Yasser
Arafat would respond with a letter to President Bill Clinton, setting forth
Palestinian principles. Erikat said the Palestinians would not be rushed
into any agreements by the United States, which, he said, leaned heavily in
Israel's favor. He refused to give a clear indication, in his morning
interview, whether Arafat would head to Egypt for a three-way meeting with
Egyptian president Husni Mubarak and Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak.
In its morning and noon news shows, VOP did not report or respond to
Israeli reports that Clinton planned to get the U.S. plan approved through
the UN, as a replacement for resolutions 242 and 338.
Although the news shows carried the sermon of Mufti Ikrema al-Sabry
(including veiled criticism of the PA position on Jerusalem), it did not
summarize his remarks in the news shows or headlines, beyond saying that the Sheikh called for visits to the martyrs (graves) and their families, as well as the wounded.
Similarly, there was no comment - as of 6p.m.-- on news agency reports
that the PA was rejecting the American proposal (Reuters) or delaying its
Morning Headlines (7:30-9:00 a.m.)
- "Palestine participates with the Arab and Islamic world in the
celebration of the Feast in the shade of continuing Israeli aggression;
- Occupation forces attack parts of Ramallah and Jenin;
- The (Palestinian) Leadership meets for consultations and deep discussion
of the American initiative;
- The mayor of occupied Jerusalem decides to move his office to the area of
the Wall of Burak (i.e. the name of the Prophet Muhammad's winged steed,
who, according to Islamic legend, was tethered to the Western Wall of the
- Feisal Husseini, member of the PLO Executive and holder of the Jerusalem
portfolio, warned the Israelis about the danger of this step, saying we
would defend the holy Jerusalem shrine (Haram al-Sharif).with a violent
Quotes from Interview with Saeb Erikat, PA Negotiator
"We believe we will achieve the establishment of an independent
Palestinian state over all the desired land with holy Jerusalem as its
capital. Well, with regard to the continuing meetings (of the Leadership),
as we said, we will not allow time to be used as a sword held over our
heads. Our responsibility is great. First Jerusalem, the question of
borders, the settlements, the refugees, it revolves around the question of
water and other matters. I want to see these are very serious, deep and
intensive discussions. Not just inside the (Palestinian) Authority but also
between President Arafat and our brother Arabs (states)..What is demanded is
a solution that must be based on international legitimacy (i.e. UN
resolutions) 242, 338 and 194.
Any final agreement is going to have to be detailed, specific-which does
not leave anything out..These are final status talks, not temporary, not
with changes. We're talking about comprehensive peace..We will not allow
interim talks. We won't allow delays."
Q: "Does this mean refusal of the American ideas"
A: "Refusal or acceptance must be decided by the highest authorities.
Based on international legitimacy. We all know the American
predilection towards Israel. All these things have to be gone into in great
detail. And the whole world has to know the Palestinian position"
Noon Headlines (additional or updated headlines, only)
- "The Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization,
headed by His Excellency President Yasser Arafat, meets this evening for
further discussions of the American plan for a final solution in preparation
for responding to it;
- Occupation forces attack two Palestinian Guard positions in Jenin
- Occupation authorities prevent prayer services for the Feast at the
(2 p.m., 4 p.m. & 6 p.m. largely repeating earlier headlines
with some additions, as below)
- "Extremist Jews try to invade Haram al-Sharif;
- Israeli jets bomb in Lebanon;
Quotes of the Day
"The American ideas have not reached the level of Palestinian demands,
but.they must reach the level of international legitimacy."
(Interview with Saeb Erikat, Chief PA negotiator)
"We wish all our listeners, on the occasion of the Feast, the fulfillment
of all their hopes from the Return to the establishment of an independent
Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."
(Holiday greetings during news shows on December 27)
Rhetorical Elements (from Mosque Sermon)
by Mufti Sheikh Ikrema al-Sabry,
from the Al-Aqsa Mosque,
December 27, 2000, 7:30 a.m.)
"o, ye Muslims, this feast comes to us at a time when the
case of Jerusalem and the holy places has been stirred to a
boil, and our people are witness to the conspiracy hatched
against Jerusalem and the holy places. There is no escaping the
expression of our firm strategic stance: that the city of
Jerusalem in its entirety be an Arab, Islamic city, and that it
return to the sphere and sovereignty of the Arabs and the
We announce say in your name 'no' to the judaization of the city
and our refusal also to its internationalization.
(Note: in the background there was some noise as if one or more worshipers called out, perhaps objecting, to the sermon's content at this point, screaming:
The American initiative to divide al-Aqsa into an upper
sovereignty and a lower sovereignty are a conspiracy against
(The Sermon went on to refuse any exchange of sovereignty in Jerusalem
in return for the "nullification of the problem of the refugees,". The sermon
did not mention "Palestinian" sovereignty, calling instead for "Islamic
"We will refuse to recognize any connection of kind of the Jews
to the blessed al Aqsa Mosque. They have no trace of a
connection to this Islamic mosque. We are its keepers, guardians
and servants, and we will pierce any American initiatives and
any Israeli statements."
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Official PA radio news - the PBC Voice of Palestine, Dec. 28th
Summary and Analysis
The confusion and lack of clear direction at the top of the pyramid of
power in the Palestinian Authority emerges clearly in the last two or three
days of broadcasts of the Voice Of Palestine.
There has been no clear message from Yasser Arafat or his spokesman Nabil
Abu Irdeineh (especially not in their own voices), and none from Mahmoud
Abbas (Abu Mazen), the PLO Executive secretary and the man most closely
associated with the "Oslo Accords."
Rather, VOP listeners have been trying to glean indications from
sometimes conflicting analyses coming from leading PA officials: Yasser Abd
Rabbo, Saeb Erikat, Ahmad Qreia, Taib Abdel-Rahim.
It appears that internal opposition from the refugee constituency and
the Islamic clerics-as well as objections from several Arab countries-- have
stiffened Arafat's resistance to American ideas, even though there was
significant initial willingness to give a "yes, but" response to them (in
an effort to gain further concessions and not to appear intransigient). Even
now, the PA does not want to appear to be saying a clear 'NO' to American
Instead, the PA reports that it is still studying them, even as VOP
reports (accurately and fairly) that the Israeli government has given "a
conditional yes response" to the Clinton formula, after a 10-2 cabinet vote
with two abstentions.
Morning Headlines (8 a.m.)
- "Dr. Erikat asserts that the Leadership is awaiting clarifications of
the Clinton ideas before responding to them in a final way;
- The Exectuive Committee (of the PLO), after deep study of the
American ideas, asserts the core Palestinian principles;
- President Arafat states in a letter to Clinton expresses the
Palestinian viewpoint on all the issues cast out (on the table);
- His Excellency (Arafat) will meet with the Egyptian President following
the cancellation of the three-way summit;
- The American president carries out many contacts to some regional in
connection with the peace process."
Quotes of the Day
"The President's (Arafat's) advisor, Nabil Abu-Irdeineh stated that the
president has sent a letter to President Clinton thanking him, on the part
of the Palestinian Leadership, for the great efforts expended by Clinton."
(Morning News broadcast, VOP 8:00 a.m.)
"As of now, the American ideas do NOT meet the needs of international
legitimacy." (Saeb Erikat, 8:10 am, morning interview)
Interview with Saeb Erikat, chief PA negotiator
Q: "We asked Dr. Erikat if this was the final response to the American ideas?"
A: "As you know,the Palestinian Leadership is continuing the study of the
American ideas in depth and conducting consultations with fraternal Arab
states and friends around the world. We have demanded explanations and
clarifications from the Americans side on all things. After all, what makes
an agreement in the end is the details. That means the geographical
elements, the deails of what happens to control over the land, that means
various kinds of relations, that means territorial contiguity, what happens
to water, that means security, Jerusalem…. We cannot just give a response
to general ideas. We desire a comprehensive agreement on Jerusalem, the
borders, settlements, the refugees and water. And that cannot be done
without the details….Without clarity there can be no response. "
Q: "Then, the Palestinian response is not final."
A: "The letter sent by President Arafat to President Clinton clarifies
completely that for us the foundations of the peace process must be based
on the foundations of the peace process which means that the American ideas
at the present time do not meet the decisions of international legitimacy
(i.e. UN resolutions 242, 338 and 181 and 194).
We have demanded clarifications based on the same clarifications built
on details in the maps….President Arafat says in his letter that finding a
basis for the peace process must be the execution of resolutions 242, 338
(Note: If Erikat's remarks seem a bit confusing and repetitive in syntax
and content, that is because they were. Many of his remarks-not offered
here--were sentence fragments built on sentence fragments.)
- His Excellency President Yasser Arafat in Egypt for meeting with the
Egyptian President about the American initiative Mubarrak;
- Dr. Saeb Erikat asserts we are awaiting American clarifications;
- Barak's advisor says he (Barak) rejects Palestinian sovereignty over
the Holy Shrine (Haram al-Sharif/ Temple Mount);
- Israel announces its conditional yes response to the American
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When Arafat Says No...
Security Affairs Correspondent, Yediot Aharonot
When Arafat says ‘No,’ what does he mean? The Rais’s ‘No’ is not an absolute rejection. It is a strategy of brinksmanship, designed to achieve a bit more, to squeeze one more accomplishment.
Arafat’s ‘No’ is designed to show his people that he doesn’t give in
easily. This is a ‘No’ that is valid only now, and can change in hours or
days. It isn’t a ‘No’ of principles. It is a ‘No’ on the way to a ‘Yes’.
Yesterday Arafat essentially said ‘Yes,’ but with conditions and
reservations. Arafat understands that he has not yet reached the limit of
Israeli concessions. He has time left before January 10th, the final date
set by Clinton. Until then he can squeeze more out of Israel. Yesterday
evening he heard that Barak requested from the cabinet approval to transfer
97% to the Palestinians. From his perspective, what is that, if not proof
that he shouldn’t be in a hurry to say ‘Yes’?
At Camp David everyone told Arafat: “You will not receive a better offer
than this one.” And still he insisted, and backed up his refusal with
violence. A few weeks ago, when he felt that the hour had arrived, he
returned to the negotiating table, and received a better offer.
Why does he insist so much? Arafat has serious internal problems. The
offers are definitely more generous than in the past, but they are still
far from the Palestinian strategy. He understands that if he says ‘No’ or
a weak ‘Yes,’ he will get a bit more.
At the same time, he understands that he will not be able to dream of a
better agreement than this in the future. Thus he prefers at the moment
not to give a clear answer. It is more advantageous to him to demand more
improvements, concessions, and guarantees. He has not broken all the rules
of the game or caused an explosion. He just wants more.
This article appeared in the daily Israeli
newspaper on Dec. 28, 2000
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