Israel Resource Review 2nd January, 2001


Official PA radio news - the PBC radio Jan. 2

Summary and Analysis

VOP largely avoided reporting on the car bomb in Netanya last night (around seven p.m.), NOT putting the item in the headlines and slipping in the news as a tag-on at the end of a report on the 11 p.m. news. Despite reports in Israel Radio, there was no on-air condemnation of the event by the Palestinian Authority nor any of its officials, nor any VOP report of any such condemnation during the late-night news.

Similarly, during the 7am news Tuesday morning January 2, there was no condemnation nor criticism of the car bomb attack. The attack itself was reported as the tail-end of the item about the closure of Gaza Airport.

Important Note: Yasser Arafat's personal advisor and spokesman Nabil Abu-Irdeineh as well as Information Minister Yasser Abd Rabbo both appeared on VOP Tuesday morning, and neither condemned nor criticized the car bombing. In fact, Abd-Rabbo was interviewed a second time for the same broadcast (this time by Gaza correspondent 'adil Za'anun) as he was about to board plane to washington with Arafat, and he ofered no condemnation nor criticism of car bombing.

Indeed, during the 8 am news summary (read by Maha Awad), the suspected perpetrator of the car bombing was called a "martyr" (see headlines below).

Quote of the Day

"Our people are a people of heroes and will continue their struggle and their confrontation with Israeli escalation until the Palestinian flag is unfurled over the mosques and churches of holy Jerusalem." (Yasser Arafat in statement at headquarters yesterday on return from Cairo, reported this morning by VOP)

Morning Headlines Jan. 2, 2001(7:00 and 8:00 a.m.):

  • "President Yasser Arafat heads to Washington for a visit to President Bill Clinton;
  • Palestinian declaration that participation in the summit (with Clinton) does not connote Palestinian acceptance of American ideas;
  • Masses of our people mark the 36th anniversary of the unleashing of our heroic Palestinian Revolution, saluting the newest stars among our martyrs, .pledging to continue our blessed Intifada until the elimination of the Israeli occupation;
  • Presidential Secretary Taib Abdel-Rahim denies reports in the media that the Palestinian Authority has agreed to American ideas;
  • Occupation authorities close airport following car bomb in Netanya.Israeli sources speculate that the executor of the attack was martyred; (Note: Israel reports one man in very serious condition, but no deaths as of 8 a.m.)
  • Israeli Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein opposes agreement with Palestinians during election period;
  • Israeli Knesset passes law refusing right of return for Palestinian refugees."

Song of the Day

"I will redeem thee
with my spirit and with my blood
Jerusalem, Jerusalem"
(broadcast as lead-in to Midnight news round-up, Monday/Tuesday-January1/2, several hours after car bombing in Netanya)

Midnight Headlines -- January 1/2, 2001

  • "His Excellency President Yasser Arafat heads to Washington at dawn this morning to meet President Bill Clinton and to get clarifications on the American ideas on the peace process;
  • President Secretary Taib Abdel-Rahim denies media reports of Palestinian agreement with American ideas;
  • Presidential Advisor (Arafat's) Nabil Abu-Irdeineh stressed the strength of the Palestinian stance opposing Clinton's ideas;
  • Israeli occupation authorities closed down the Gaza International airport in response to the explosion in the city of Netanya, as three explosions took place in a car-bomb in Netanya, wounding 37 people, one of them seriously, and Israeli sources said he (the seriously wounded) was the man who executed the attack.
  • The extremist Rabbi Meir Lau (note: the chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Israel) called for freezing political negotiations with the Palestinians in response to the explosive operation (Arabic: "amaliyyat tafjir"; this is a a value-neutral way to describe the attack without calling it a suicide operation or terrorist act);
  • A citizen was wounded when his vehicle was subjected to fire near the town of Hizmeh;
  • Occupation forces opened their wicked fire on the populated neighborhood of Dahiya in Nablus, and in Salfit and in Nabi Salih." (There were other reports of individual casualties in Bethlehem, Hebron and Kufr Haris, as well as retrospectives on the day's funerals and recaps of earlier reports through the day.)

Quotes from Interview with Yasser Abd Rabbo, PA Information Minister

"President Abu Amar (Arafat) in a second letter several days ago to President Clinton said he was ready to come to Washington to meet with President Clinton for the sake of discussing for the clarifications he desires regarding the American initiative.. There are many things that need clarification beffore we give our final word on the American initiative.."

Quotes from Interview with Nabil Abu-Irdeineh

"The contacts between President Arafat and President Clinton continue. There was a long phone conversation last night concerning the American ideas and especially the demand from the Palestinian side for clarifications on those ideas..The two presidents-Arafat and Clinton-want to discuss the ideas in detail..Our consultations with the Arab states continue as do our consultations with the Europeans."

Question: "Is there any way out of the situation?"

Answer: "The efforts continue.. This will be a fateful week, whether positive or negative. We don't know how things will turn out."

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Will the PA Move Thousands of Arab Refugees into Jerusalem?
Khaled Abu-Tuema
Investigative Journalist, Yerushalaim Magazine

It’s hard to find anyone these days in East Jerusalem who supports the idea of splitting the city again. Even PA representatives are opposed to a return to the situation that existed before the Six Day War. The Palestinians would prefer for the city to remain open and without borders.

Back when Ehud Barak first came to power, the PA already began to prepare for the day when the Palestinians would get full sovereignty over East Jerusalem. Senior PA officials knew even before the last elections that if Barak were elected prime minister, he would concede the eastern part of the city. “We received promises from senior Labor Party members that if they came to power they would divide Jerusalem and give us an independent state,” says Khatem Abed el-Kader, a representative of the Jerusalem district in the Palestinian Legislative Council.

The PA’s plan for East Jerusalem includes:

1 - Stationing between 2,500 and 4,000 police and Palestinian security personnel in all the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, including the Old City and the commercial centers (Saladin Street, Sultan Suleiman Street A-Zahara Street and Wadi Joz). The headquarters of the various security organizations would also be moved form Gaza and Ramallah to East Jerusalem.

2 - PA Chairman Yasser Arafat would open an office on the Temple Mount compound or in one of the buildings in the Moslem Quarter that overlooks the mosques. Arafat wants the el-Aksa mosque and the Dome of the Rock to be visible from the window of this office. He likes to compare himself to the great Moslem fighter Salah a-Din who liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders, and his picture with the Temple Mount in the background would help him create the image of the person who followed in this statesman’s footsteps. The PA, incidentally, is at this time considering giving Arafat the title “fatah el-Kuds” (the liberator of Jerusalem) in light of their appreciation of his liberating Jerusalem from the Zionist conquerors.

3 - The PA plans to take control of the Wakf’s properties and state lands in East Jerusalem. The Moslem Wakf (which continues to be subordinate to the Jordanian government) at present has thousands of buildings and large areas in the Old City and the surrounding Arab neighborhoods. The State of Israel also owns lands that were appropriated for public use.

4 - There have been calls in the PA of late to allow tens of thousands of Palestinians, mainly refugees who live in camps in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, to settle in East Jerusalem. The goal: to create a Palestinian majority in East Jerusalem and to turn the “settlers” in French Hill, Ramat Eshkol, Pisgat Zeev, Neve Yaakov, Gilo and Armon Hanatziv into a minority. Thus the Palestinians hope to get the Jewish neighborhoods established in East Jerusalem after ’67 evacuated. But in fact it is the residents of East Jerusalem who should be worried about the neighborhoods and villages being deluged by tens of thousands of Arabs. Residents of Ramallah and Nablus have experienced this on their skins.

5 - Palestinian security sources report on a long list of residents in East Jerusalem who are suspected of collaborating with Israel. These sources say that most of these collaborators will be arrested as soon as the Palestinian police enter Jerusalem. Until today these collaborators enjoyed immunity thanks to their blue ID cards they hold.

The PA, on the other hand, does not have, at this stage, answers to the serious economic problems that would be created when Israel withdraws from East Jerusalem. Around 50,000 families that are entitled to National Insurance payments could find themselves without a crust of bread if their allowances stop. The PA does not have an orderly system to replace the National Insurance Institute. Just the opposite, economists believe that the standard of living in East Jerusalem will drop 50% lower after being given to the PA. They warn of the repercussions of such a situation, as there would two populations in Jerusalem: a Jewish one with a very high standard of living and a thriving economy, and a Palestinian one with a low standard of living and poverty. If Isawiyya residents are not happy, warn economists and others, their neighbors in French will have good reason to be anxious.

This article appeared in the Yerushalaim magazine (owned by Yediot Aharonot) on Dec. 29, 2000

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Does the PA Want to Erase Israel from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem?
Nahum Barnea
Senior Correspondent, Yediot Aharon

Arafat does not tire of reminding Israelis at every opportunity, that he is not just the president of Palestine and the head of the PLO, he is also the deputy chairman of the pan-Islamic council for Jerusalem. It was not just by chance I was chosen for the position, he says. I was chosen because of my vast knowledge of the city’s history.

One of the members of the Israeli negotiating team asked him why he denies the existence of the temple on the Temple Mount.

“It’s not written in the Koran,” Arafat answered.

The Israeli quoted for him one of the most important Islamic books of exegesis to the Koran that speaks at length of the temple built by King Solomon.

“Inta akrut (bastard),” Arafat laughed. “I’m not talking to you again.”

That same Israeli held a little quiz for the members of the Palestinian negotiating team. He showed them a picture of the Temple Mount and asked them where they thought the el-Aksa mosque was. Most pointed to the building with the golden dome in the center of the mount -- the Dome of the Rock, or as it is mistakenly called, the Mosque of Omar.

The Palestinian negotiating team is quite similar to the Israeli team: modern people, secular in their lifestyle, westernized. They seek their Mecca not in Saudi Arabia, but in America.

The representatives of both sides have been put in the position of having to conduct negotiations in the name of the spiritual, religious, love and hatred passions of others. The Israelis are uncomfortable with this. The Palestinians react just the opposite, with great aggression. It is as if they are saying - this is all mine: the Temple Mount, (similar to the Western Wall for us) has become nationalism, and nationalism has become politics. One Israeli said that what Arafat really wants is to put a giant projector over the el-Aksa mosque and thus blind his people and burn the problem of the refugees from their memory.

Their struggle is not for the holiness of el-Aksa but against the profanity of Israel. This piece of real estate must be pure Palestinian: any sign of a religious or historical link to the Jewish people contaminates it. This Palestinian intransigence reflects their desire for revenge for 33 years of occupation and of wickedness. What happened on the Temple Mount, one Israeli told me sadly, was a laboratory for me to understanding the Palestinian position in the entire conflict. Any place where they can erase Israel, they erase it.

The idea of giving sovereignty over the Temple Mount to God, control to the Palestinians and supervision to the UN secretary general, was welcomed by Ehud Barak and the Egyptians. The Palestinians objected, and the head of the Israeli negotiating team, Shlomo Ben-Ami, was not thrilled. The Palestinians were strict about rejecting any idea that gives any sort of symbolic expression of a Jewish link to the mount. Even the little that Clinton proposed in his guidelines is unacceptable to them.

The issue of the Temple Mount is the only one in Clinton’s guidelines that is open to all ideas. It also stars in Israel’s reservations. The problem is not halachic. It belongs to the realm of emotion, religious tradition, and historical consciousness. Israel still insists on its demand for vertical sovereignty: what is under the mount is linked to Israel.

If Israel concedes entirely on the Temple Mount, it could bring on itself, as well as onto Arafat, new troubles. Okay, the young Tanzim would say. We made the el-Aksa Intifada and we got el-Aksa. Now let’s make the refugee Intifada.

This article appeared in the Yediot on Dec. 29, 2000

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