Israel Resource Review 22nd Febuary, 2001


Official Palestinian Radio News: The Voice of Palestine (V.O.P.) February 21st

Summary and Analysis The failed Israeli liquidation operation/assassination attempt in Jenin yesterday was the main featured attraction on V.O.P. morning news, with the Palestinian Authority-via Col. Tawfik al-Tirawi-claiming it had frustrated many such assassination attempts, but would not hesitate to respond with its own assassination policy. Today's threats, bravado and alleged Palestinian operational achievement in frustrating Israeli plans (as opposed to V.O.P.'s earlier more honest portrayal of many such successful Israeli operations) may indicate that the PA is trying to latch on to one failed Israeli operation to claim as its own success. This comes in the face of apparent Palestinian foment about the generally low level of operations that the average Palestinian feels he or she is receiving (as seen in recent Bir Zeit University poll).

In his interview, Tirawi minced no words about assassinations being a weapon that could be turned on Israeli leaders, too. Tirawi said assassination was a two-sided sword, and he warned of revenge, if Israel escalated its policy.

Also featured today, but in measured tones, was the meeting in Washington between Colin Powell and the Palestinian delegation, with V.O.P. spinning the talks as centering on Palestinian-American bilateral relations, stopping Israeli aggression and American commitment to restoring the peace process according to "international legitimacy."

Here, too, there was a somewhat hesitant initial tone in the remarks of Nabil Sha'ath describing the talks with Colin Powell, which, at the end of the interview are described in more successful terms, as Sha'ath boasts of getting Powell to agree to the need for full Israeli withdrawal.

Once again Yasser Arafat is returning to the headlines as a mover and shaker on the world scene, as V.O.P. touts telephone calls between the Palestinian president and leading officials from Spain and Russia. There is no mention of any contacts between the Palestinian Authority and Ariel Sharon, but V.O.P. is not returning to its policy calling him names.

Wednesday Morning Round-up Headlines, 7:00 a.m.

  • "The martyr Osama Ibrahim al-Kahrabi who fell before the violent Israeli shelling of Beit Jallah and the Aida Camp;
  • Israeli Occupation authorities continue their aggression and attacks on Palestinian citizens and destroy citizens' houses in Hebron and bulldoze lands in Yatta and other prefectures along with the continuation of the siege;
  • The policy of political assassination executed by occupation forces at the behest of the Israeli government continues with a failed attempt to assassinate a prominent Hamas member in Jenin which is foiled by Palestinian security organs (Note: according to Israeli reports, the man was not home);
  • We will have an interview with Col. Tawfiq al-Tirawi, head of General Intelligence in the West Bank, .who will discuss the.occupation authorities' assassination program against citizens;
  • Tirawi reveals the Palestinian organs' frustration of assassinations against Palestinian leaders;
  • And we will discuss the Palestinian-American talks which were held in the American capital of Washington and Dr. Nabil Sha'ath will discuss his talks with Colin Powell, the American Secretary of State, as "serious"
    [Note: the term in Arabic was "jayyida" which was exactly the same term used by Palestinian negotiators to describe their talks with the Israelis in Taba];
  • Dr. Sha'ath says Powell said America is committed to the source authority of the peace process, specifically resolutions 242 and 338;
  • The Americans say they committed to developing bilateral relations which were upgraded during the term of Bill Clinton;
  • Ehud Barak will not participate in Sharon's Government and has decided to leave political life completely-a step that followed widespread criticism on Barak.
  • Rehav'am Ze'evi and Avigdor Lieberman are close to entering the (Israeli) government as ministers."

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

  • "The youth Osama Muhammad al-Kahrabi, 18 years old, was martyred late last night in a shelling of Beit Jallah when his house was hit by shells and heavy fire.and 22 other citizens were wounded.and ten houses were damaged, two destroyed totally;
  • An Israeli settler was wounded when his car was fired upon near Tsurif township near Hebron;
  • His Excellency President Yaser Arafat received two detailed communications (note: probably telephone calls) last night from the Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Nayar (sp?) and the Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov discussing the most recent developments in the region .;
  • Defeated Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak announces that he is leaving political life and not serving as Minister of the Army (note: V.O.P. never calls it the "Defense Ministry") in a successor government headed by Ariel Sharon in two letters declaring his resignation from leadership of the Labor Party and membership in the Knesset;
  • The Palestinian delegation to Washington held official talks with American Secretary of State Colin Powell and other officials, and the PLO representative in Washington says the meeting discussed continuing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian stance on the peace process;
  • The 'Afwa (must be Arabic translation of Amnesty) International Organization demands the Israeli government stop its assassination policy against our people immediately, calling it illegal.and saying it leads to growing cycle of violence and revenge in the Middle East (Note: according to other sources, the Amnesty statement also called for Palestinian restraint);
  • The killing of ten Yeminees (i.e. citizens of Yemen) and 21 others wounded in a violent confrontation."

Quote of the Day

"Israel does not care about international laws. Israel cares only about its interests. It does not care about circumstances. It will kill any person if it serves what it considers its interests."
        Col. Tawfik Tirawi, commander PA West Bank General Intelligence, morning interview 7:30 a.m.

Quotes from Interview with Col. Tawfik Tirawi, Commander West Bank General Intelligence for the Palestinian Authority, 7:30 a.m.

Question: "What do you know about the chain of assassinations?"

Answer: "First, this Israeli policy is not new. It has been in existence since the State of Israel was created when this policy was established on a basis of assassination and carried out for a period of 50 years. Whenever it feels the need for this style it launches an assassination operation against any person-no matter who it is, no matter the laws or the circumstances . . .

Israel does not care about international laws. Israel cares only about its interests. It does not care about circumstances. It will kill any person if it serves what it considers its interests.

(The interviewer then asked about reports that Israel would escalate its assassination policy against hard-to-get-at targets)

Question: "Do you take these threats seriously?"

Answer: "We take all Israeli threats seriously, with a high level of readiness. The leaders and the cadres are required to have a high degree of discipline, the Leadership and the members, must take security precautions. But the (Palestinian) Authority cannot protect every single person unless the person is under personal protection.We see this as a danger, that Israel executes an assassination operation. But this is a two-edged sword. If Israel carries out an assassination operation against one of the relatives or his family as has happened to some people who were opposed to Israel. Then there will be revenge. These are two-sided weapons. They can do these actions, but they have to know that there will be reactions."

Question: "Do you have information about Occupation forces targeting prominent political or security persons?"

Answer: "There are some pieces of information we can transmit. We have told friendly states and the Americans about some Israeli plans and intentions, and in some cases the (Palestinian) security forces foiled these attempts." Quotes from interview with Nabil Sha'ath, Minister of International Cooperation and Planning, 7:40 a.m.

Question: "You met Colin Powell. First, how was the meeting?"

Answer: "Really, it was a positive meeting, one could say that. And it was the first meeting on an official level with an official, on a diplomatic level, with an American official to prepare the meeting on the 25th of this month with President Arafat in Gaza.We raised the real subject, the situation about how the Palestinian people are living under the Israeli siege, the continuing Israeli aggression against us, the assassinations of Palestinian commanders, the attacks using gas bombs in Khan Yunis, in Khan Yunis Camp. He indicated that the American government had condemned the assassinations and was studying the gas attacks, especially the use of American poison, as I told him. During the meeting we also spoke of the need to end the blockade, and we spoke of the dangerous fiscal situation. They are taking their first steps with regard to the Middle East. They're only beginning.

Question: "On a policy level, do they agree to go back to the point, with Sharon, where things stood with his predecessors?" (i.e. Camp David II and Taba)

Answer: "They distinguish between what was finished with agreement and what was not finished with agreement. I told them 'we do not require you to hold on to what Clinton presented, but we want your commitment to resolution 242 which means the withdrawal of Israel from all the territories it occupied in 1967.' And he said 'we are obligated to that.'

I asked him whether what Clinton demanded was positive or not. And he did not relate to it. He dealt with 242, and he said we are committed to 242."

(Note: from a close reading of Sha'ath remarks-which were themselves somewhat degraded by phone static and background interruptions-it is NOT clear if Secretary Powell agreed with Nabil Sha'ath's interpretation of 242 or only spoke of an American commitment to 242.)

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PMW News Update
PLO threatens Israel's UN membership


Salim Al-Za'anun, Chairman of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) has threatened to contest Israel's UN membership. In addition he has declared that Israel's Knesset building is on Palestinian land and called for its removal

The following is the text of the article that appeared in today's Palestinian Authority daily Al-Ayyam.

"Salim Al-Za'anun: If Israel Continues to Reject Decision 194, The PLO Will Contest Israel's Membership in the UN

"The chairman of the Palestinian National Council, Salim A-Za'anun, said that the Palestinian Liberation Organization will contest Israel's membership in the UN if it continues to reject [UN] Decision 194 regarding the return of [Palestinian] refugees, and if it refuses to withdraw from the Palestinian territories conquered in 1967.

". . . Za'anun threatened [the PLO] will retreat from its acceptance of resolution 242 and the amendment of the Palestinian National Charter if Israel continues to ignore the rights of the Palestinian nation. He said that there would be a return to square one of the dispute and to [UN 1947 Partition] Decision 181, which endows to the Palestinian people some 45% of historic Palestine.

". . . he added: '[Israel's Parliament] the Knesset stands on Palestinian land, it must be removed so that the permanent seat of the [Palestinian] National Council my be erected there.

"Za'anun declared these during a ceremony launching the 1,000,000 signature campaign to return the refugees, held in Dir Al-Balakh [Gaza Strip refugee camp].

Al-Ayyam, 21 February 2001

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Official Palestinian Radio News: The Voice of Palestine (V.O.P.) February 22nd
French Hill - targeted as a Jewish settlement by the P.A.

Summary and Analysis - Jerusalem Escalation

V.O.P. broke new ground today in its description of the shooting attack on a driver at the French Hill junction. It twice described the man as a "settler" using the locution "shots fired on a settler in the French Hill area." The strong suggestion that French Hill (which is a misnomer in English, Arabic and Hebrew, by way-see jocular note below**) was a settlement was deliberate, though not as pronounced as recent characterizations of Giloh, which V.O.P. regularly calls "the colony of Giloh built on land taken from Beith Jallah." V.O.P. cited the "occupation police" as a source for the item on the French Hill shooting, although V.O.P.'s Jerusalem correspondent Muhammad Abd-Rabbo already had details of the shooting (which occurred at 5:30 a.m.) for morning news. Nevertheless, V.O.P. chose not to feature the shooting of the Israeli driver in its morning news bulletin and round-up headlines, preferring to highlight instead Israeli arrests and searches in the nearby Shueifat camp, rather than what prompted them.

V.O.P. also cited "occupation police" sources throughout the morning as saying that the incident "was the first of its kind since the sparking of the Al-Aqsa and Independence Intifada." This phrasing, which was repeated at 11 a.m. and 12-noon was hardly a call for restraint but rather a coded message to encourage further actions of this kind.

(Note: In a V.O.P. interview this week, PA Minister of Information classified building Israeli settlements as a war crime, and Israeli "settlers" have long been considered tantamount to war criminals. Note also that when V.O.P. recently quantified numbers of Israeli fatalities, it broke the 50-odd deaths into two categories: soldiers and settlers.)

Further attacks on Israelis in northern Jerusalem (there were some shootings several weeks ago in the neighborhoods of Nevei Ya'kov and Pisgat Ze'ev as well as the nearby Giva'at Ze'ev) would in effect open a two-front war in Jerusalem, with shootings along the southern front in Giloh and along the northern front of French Hill and other northern neighborhoods.

The shooting comes amid other signs of escalating violence in Jerusalem, V.O.P.'s Abd-Rabbo said the Fatah agents arrested by the Israelis were members of an armed cell, headed by Muhammad al-Abassi of the Ras al-'Umud neighborhood-but this material was not repeated in the headlines of any of the news bulletins. Abd-Rabbo said the police were accused of concealing hand grenades which they planned to throw at Israelis.

V.O.P. also neglected to report that the Lebanese-born British citizen arrested by Israel (identified by Israel as Jihad Shuman) had allegedly concealed his own materiel in a site on Mount Scopus in preparation for his own terror attack inside Jerusalem.

V.O.P. also reported in one of its local reports that the PA Housing Ministry had registered 144 Palestinian houses as being destroyed in recent fighting in Gaza.

At the end of the morning news, V.O.P. interviewed an Israeli Arab doctor who testified at the internal Israeli commission of inquiry into the deaths of 13 Israeli Arabs in October 2000 (Note: V.O.P. uses the term "13 Palestinians inside the Green Line" refusing to use the term Israel in the context of Arab citizens). "I spoke about the wickedness of the attack on our youth," said Dr. Atif Aghbaria.

The news also included a feature on Israel's alleged attacks on Palestinian and foreign journalists, without making mention of the repeated PA threats in recent weeks against the entry of Israeli journalists to PA territory as well as not mentioning the frequent threats against Western reporters who write, record and film in PA areas.

Thursday Morning Round-up Headlines

  • "Occupation forces invade Shueifat Camp in occupied Jerusalem, arresting seven citizens; [note: figure was changed almost immediately]
  • Pilgrims arrive in sacred shrine;
  • Deep losses to criminal Israel artillery barrage;
  • The (Israeli) Labor Party agrees to Sharon including extremist religious parties in his government;
  • Israeli attacks increase against journalists and the media."

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

  • "Israeli forces bombard with artillery and heavy automatic fire the western and southwestern neighborhoods of Tulkarm last night, damaging tens of houses;
  • Occupation forces arrest 15 citizens from Shueifat township in Jerusalem, as well as detaining 3 youths on charges of belonging tot he Fatah movement in occupied Jerusalem;
  • The National Authority asks the Investigating Commission headed by the American George Mitchell to intervene strongly in the situation of the chain of assassinations carried out by Israel (and its effect on) the rights of Palestinian citizens;
  • Dr. Nabil Sha'ath, the Minister of International Economic Development and Planning, calls on the new American administration to sharpen its role in the Middle East quickly;
  • American State Department demands Israel lift the siege on Palestinian people and transfer customs levies as soon as possible;
  • The Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan says he is profoundly concerned by the economic situation in Palestinian lands;
  • The head of the Palestinian refugee commission UNRWA, Peter Hanson is encountering difficulties in providing assistance to Palestinian refugees because of the siege.;
  • Belgium is threatening recalling its ambassador from Tel Aviv and freezing agreements with Israel because of practices against our Palestinian people;
  • British government has submitted a sharp protest to Israel over the detainment for six months (administrative detention) of a British citizen of Lebanese origin;
  • Sudanese security forces arrest religious leader Hassan Tourabi.;
  • Iraq announces that American and British war planes dropped incendiary bombs on civilian targets on (sounds like) Samara in southern Iraq."

Thursday Noon Headlines

  • "Occupation bulldozers continue their settlement action in Qaria Sawiya, and occupation forces seized Qaria Qusra in the Nablus prefecture and endangered 20 houses in southern Hebron;
  • Heavy searches in Jerusalem after the opening of fire on a settler;
  • Security organs (PA) in Hebron are investigating an explosion in the liberated portion of Hebron during the night;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat receives an emissary of the British prime minister."

Quote of the Day "This is an operation to banish Palestinian citizens."         Palestinian Housing Minister describing Israeli artillery attacks in Gaza, 7:50 a.m.

Quotes from Interview with Dr. Hamad Abd al-Rahman, PA Housing Minister

Question: "Doctor, could you give us an idea of the sale of the economic losses due to Israeli bombardment of inhabited buildings?"

Answer: Really, Israel has not spared any military means against our people leading to more than 430 being martyred and thousands of wounded, but it is also using economic warfare, destroying partially or completely many buildings. This is an effort to empty out by bombardment inhabited areas which abut settlements to free-up the lands the settlements want to control. This is an operation to banish Palestinian citizens. Thousands of Palestinian citizens have left their houses and are living in tents.The direct cost is 14-million (fourteen million) dollars of the Israeli bombardment. In addition, the Israelis are shelling the infrastructure, such as schools, police headquarters and so forth. And our preliminary estimates on this matter are 17-million dollars."

"French Hill" Terminology

This term is actually a misnomer in Hebrew and Arabic where it is translated literally as "The French Hill", ha-giv'a ha-tzarfatit in Hebrew and Al-Tel al-Fransawi in Arabic. The origin of the term is the British conquest of Jerusalem in World War I when a Captain French led the British forces who conquered the area near Mount Scopus.

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