Israel Resource Review 7th Febuary, 2001


Official PA radio news - ELECTION NIGHT COVERAGE
the P.B.C. V.O.P. (Voice of Palestine) Radio: February 6

Special Bulletin, 9 p.m., Israel Election Night

Summary and Analysis

Already at 9 p.m. V.O.P. quoted Danish reports that Ariel Sharon had won the Israeli elections, but it noted that a final result would come with the 10 p.m. Israeli television exit polls. V.O.P. said most recent polls showed a gap of 20-percent for Sharon over Barak.

V.O.P. noted that there was a strong boycott of the elections by Arab voters, with most Arab communities showing less than one percent turn-out by six thirty p.m., while overall voting at that time had reached 58 percent.

V.O.P. broadcast warnings by West Bank Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti that the Intifada would continue and even intensify.

"Sharon is the last bullet in the Israeli ammunition clip," asserted Barghouti. He said that israelis would discover that Sharon could not bring them security and that he would be the biggest failure in their history. The only way to work with Sharon, Fatah Secretary Barghouti said, was to continue and escalate the Intifada.

V.O.P. repeated Yasser Abd-Rabbo's comments that a Sharon victory represented a victory for the Fascist and extremist Right in Israel.

Radio Analysis and Excerpts

Summary and Analysis

V.O.P. escalated its verbal pummeling of Ariel Sharon Tuesday, but stopped just short of a direct endorsement of Ehud Barak. V.O.P. basically said "Sharon is an evil monster", pronouncing him a racist and Fascist as well as a mass murderer, even as it largely ignored the call by many Israeli Arab politicians and Islamic leaders for a boycott or a blank ballot.

During V.O.P.'s morning news shows, it portrayed Sharon as someone who continued to flout the law in Israel and Arab sensibilities, asserting that Sharon was planning to make an illegal campaign appearance in the "colony of Gilo" in Jerusalem (i.e. the Jerusalem neighborhood that had been targeted by Palestinian snipers for several weeks).

The Palestinian Authority Minister of Information, Yasser Abd-Rabbo, was the featured 8:05 a.m. Tuesday morning interview, and he said that Sharon represented the "extremist right wing" in Israel and its "fascist" approach to the use of power.

In its news summaries, V.O.P. said "Israeli voters are choosing between the head of the Labor party, Ehud Barak, and the extremist, right-winger, the leader of the Likud party, Ariel Sharon." Barak was pictured as indecisive and a sure loser, while Sharon was depicted as a fascistic mass murderer. There was no mention in the headlines of the option of boycotting the elections or casting a blank ballot.

The tone of programming is reflected by anchorman Samir Interr's Monday morning political profile summation of Sharon:

"Ariel Sharon has a history spattered with blood and massacres."

At the same time, V.O.P. did not hide its disappointment with Barak, calling him inconsistent and indecisive, and V.O.P. gave a lot of air time to coverage of what it called continuing Israeli aggression.

Elsewhere V.O.P. gave unusually great prominence to the demands of Libyan leader Muamar Qadhafi that sanctions be lifted against his country and that international figures such as Nelson Mandela review the Lockerbie verdict.

At the same time, V.O.P. continues to champion the cause of Saddam Hussein's emergence from isolation and his forging of new economic and political ties.

Second Special Bulletin, 11 p.m.

Summary and Analysis

In its 11 p.m. broadcast, The Voice of Palestine referred to the election victory by "the extremist Likud leader Ariel Sharon." However, V.O.P. featured comments by PA President Yasser Arafat that he would respect the election results in Israel.

V.O.P. also removed the caustic anti-Sharon comments of Yasser Abd-Rabbo (Sharon as fascist) and Marwan Barghouti (escalating intifada).

Arafat's spokesman Nabil Abu-Irdeineh said that the Palestinian Authority would be willing to work with the new government provided it worked on the peace process linked to "international legitimacy" (i.e. UN resolutions) and the principle of "land for peace."

Still, the tone of the broadcast was markedly anti-Sharon.

"Israeli television predicts a 19-point advantage for the extremist Likud candidate Ariel Sharon over his rival Barak," the program began.

"We respect the choice of the Israeli people and will work for the continuation of the peace process," V.O.P. quoted Arafat.

"We will work with any Israeli prime minister, but what interests us is the commitment to the peace process," said Abu-Irdenieh in a prepared statement.

Abu-Irdeineh hinted strongly that the PA expects Sharon to abide by understandings reached with Barak and other Israeli leaders. Abu-Irdeineh said the agreements were between the PLO and the Israeli government. He further said that peace, security and regional stability were conditional on the Palestinians getting an independent state with complete sovereignty and independence including holy Jerusalem.

V.O.P. noted that Sharon had invited Barak to join a unity government.

V.O.P. also reported that President George Bush was set to call and congratulate Sharon, but that Denmark had announced its disappointment with the victory of "the extremist Sharon" and what effect this might have on the peace process.

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Official PA radio news - February 7th & 8th

The Palestinian toughened its tone Thursday morning following a cabinet meeting Wednesday night, signaling its demands that Israel-under a Sharon Government-- hold fast to all understandings reached with the Barak government as well as the Palestinian versions of UN resolutions. The Voice of Palestine also featured speakers who unabashedly spoke about extending and escalating the "Intifada" for the sake of pressuring Israel.

Summary and Analysis, February 7

On the 'morning after,' V.O.P. gave full coverage to the Israeli election victory of Ariel Sharon, emphasizing international concern for a continuing peace process. At the same time, V.O.P.'s second item-carrying over from Tuesday night-was Yasser Arafat's statement saying the Palestinian Authority respected any choice by the Israeli electorate.

V.O.P. reiterated its late Tuesday night messages as expressed by Arafat and his spokesman, Nabil Abu-Irdeineh who insisted that the Palestinians "would cling to red lines" (i.e. no concessions on most important issues).

Abu-Irdeineh hinted strongly that the PA expects Sharon to abide by understandings reached with Barak and other Israeli leaders, especially, but not only, the principle of territory for peace. Abu-Irdeineh said the agreements were between the PLO and the Israeli government. He further said that peace, security and regional stability were conditional on the Palestinians getting an independent state with complete sovereignty and independence including holy Jerusalem.

V.O.P. noted that Sharon had invited Barak to join a unity government, but Barak had now announced his intention to resign the Labor Party leadership and even to leave political life (Note: This second element is overstated).

The morning round-up also featured Sports and Culture Minister Matan Vilnai's complaint that the lack of voting by the Arabs had cost Barak the election, and it also headlined leftist party Meretz member Ran Cohen" saying that Meretz would oppose any national unity government.

{NOTE: as is the custom on V.O.P., there were no Hebrew speakers featured-even as short inserts with Arab talk-overs. The only Israeli politicians interviewed in recent days (and in general) were Arab Knesset members of leaders of the Islamic Movement all of whom favored boycotting the elections.}

PA Parliamentary Minister Nabil Amr, in a relatively short interview, admitted that the Palestinians were surprised by the magnitude of the Sharon victory, but Amr stressed "this great percentage gap (i.e. big advantage for Sharon) does not mean confidence in Sharon but speaks of the circumstances of the failure of Ehud Barak."

V.O.P. also reported that President George Bush called to congratulate Sharon, but V.O.P. stressed that the congratulations from Bush and others were linked to Sharon pursuing the peace process.

In short, the Voice of Palestine and the Palestinian Authority have three prime messages in the day following Sharon's victory:

  1. Barak lost big because he failed to deliver peace;
  2. the Palestinians will deal with sharon as long as he accepts Palestinians interpretations of international resolutions and Palestinian-Israeli agreements and understandings;
  3. The palestinians will continue their struggle for immediate implementation of their rights (this message was somewhat muted on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning but was strengthened through the day Wednesday and Thursday morning February 8.

(The Voice of Palestine was similar to the Voice of Israel-and most Israeli television commentaries-- in stressing the personal failure of Barak, and in ignoring analysis-done on January 30, 2001-- by the Tami Steinmetz Center at Tel Aviv University, for example, which showed that more than 70 percent felt Barak's approach to the Palestinians was "too conciliatory.")

Morning Round-up Headlines, Wednesday February 7

  • "Ariel Sharon , the leader of the rightist Likud realizes his triumph, clearly and convincingly, over Ehud Barak, the resigning prime minister, and exceeding the opinion polls with an advantage of 25 percent;
  • Near-total boycott of the elections by Palestinians inside the Green Line and 'day-off' for Israelis;
  • Resigning Prime Minister Ehud Barak acknowledges the overwhelming defeat and announces departure from head of Labor Party and political life;
  • Ariel Sharon calls for unity government with Labor Party and other parties;
  • Israel and the region enter a new stage, waiting and watching to see fate of the peace process, and actions of Sharon and his government towards peace;
  • And the stance Sharon had announced during the election campaign consists of an absolute fixture that the Oslo Agreement is dead, (preferring) long-term staged agreement while refusing to withdraw the army from additional (literally: new) territories, and continuing the occupation on all of Jerusalem, refusing to dismantle existing settlements and refusing the return of the Palestinian refugees;
  • The reactions from the (Palestinian) National Authority speak of working together with the prime minister of any elected Israeli government, in that the Palestinian side and the Israeli government are obligated to the peace process and respecting the agreements;
  • The American president George Bush telephones to congratulate Sharon, expressing readiness to work with Sharon.for the sake of peace;
  • The European Union congratulates Sharon expecting him to progress in the direction of peace."

Morning Headlines, February 7 7 a.m. / 8 a.m. / 9 a.m.

  • "The triumph of the extremist Likud candidate in the Israeli election by about 25 percent over his labor party rival, resigning Prime Minister Ehud Barak. According to Central Election Commission figures, after 99-percent of the vote, Sharon has 62.5-percent and Barak with 37.4-percent;
  • And from the perspective of reactions, His Excellency President Yasser Arafat says we will respect the choice of the Israeli people;
  • The president's advisor, Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, says the National Authority will work with any prime minister elected by the Israeli people and what interests us is the obligation to the peace process.;
  • Sharon invited Barak to join a national unity government.but Barak resigned the Labor Party leadership and his membership in the Knesset.;
  • Regarding Sharon's victory, Economic Development Minister Shimon Peres said he would have beaten Sharon had he (Peres) been the candidate;
  • More than 130 citizens were injured in attacks by Israeli forces parades of rage that took place throughout the homeland, especially in attacks by Occupation soldiers in the northern approaches to El Bireh, Bir al-Nidam, Nabi Saleh, the prefecture of Hebron and Qalqilya.;
  • A Palestinian delegation led by Feisal al-Husseini went to Amman yesterday for talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdel-Hilal al-Khatib;
  • Egyptian President Husni Mubarak and Tunisian President Zaid Abdeen Ben Ali asserted the need for an international protection force for our Palestinian people in the light of continuing Israeli aggression;
  • Ethiopia and Eritrea agree on zone of justice and Ethipian withdrawal next Monday;
  • American Secretary of State Colin Powell gives a special commentary to diplomats in Washington, calling for continued peace talks in the Middle East, referring to 'steps for the sake of peace' instead of 'peace process.'"

Quote of the Day

"In his election campaign Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon set a clear platform. First of all, the Oslo Agreements from 1993 was dead and would not return.

Second, there would not be a withdrawal from new (i.e. additional) lands. But Sharon declared his intent for peace and said 'we will not return to Nablus and Jericho.

Third, the continuation of Israeli occupation on all of Jerusalem and the refusal to accept any partition.

Fourth, there will NOT be any removal of any settlement because settlements exist in security zones, according to his view,.and this includes the Jordan Valley.

Fifth, the Palestinian state has to be demilitarized." (From the first morning-after election report by Nizar al Ghul, 7:15 a.m., Wednesday)

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