Israel Resource Review 11th January, 2001


Official PA radio news -
the P.B.C. VOP (Voice of Palestine) Radio: January 10th

Summary and Analysis

The Palestinian Authority is signaling the end of the Clinton era in the Middle East.

The PA has said thank you to Clinton, and now it will shop elsewhere.

"There is no escaping putting international pressure on Israel and the United States to stop these acts of terrorism and aggression against the Palestinian people," asserted Farouk Qaddoumi, the director of the PLO's political department in the main morning interview Wednesday. (Anyone who thinks the PA is going to roll back its demands for the Bush Administration should pay attention to the morning interview with Farouk Qaddoumi: the longest and the main item on the morning news.)

All the talk of Camp David, Sharm al-Sheikh and Presidential understandings is now being glossed with pronouncements about the failure or irrelevancy of various diplomatic/security efforts.

Instead, the PA is stressing activities in the inter-Arab and European arenas( in part, to collect on some of the promises of financial aid).

VOP was at great pains this morning to stress that no serious security cooperation is under way between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In its 7 am, 8am and 9 am broadcasts, VOP opened with a denial that any security personnel were present at the meeting yesterday between Yasser Arafat and Amnon Lipkin Shahak, the Israeli Minister of Tourism and former IDF Chief of staff and negotiator in talks with the PLO.

VOP is also covering the stepped-up efforts of the PA and the PLO in European capitals ( e.g. coverage of Feisal Husseini and Salim Za'anun), inter-Arab meetings (Arafat and Qaddoumi), at the UN and perhaps with the incoming Bush Administration.

Quotes of the Day

1."There is no escaping putting international pressure on Israel and the United States to stop these acts of terrorism and aggression against the Palestinian people." (Farouk Qaddoumi in morning interview, 7:15 am, see below for fuller text)

2. "These reservations are not going to change with respect to their core . . . on the subject of Jerusalem, the land, the settlements, refugees, borders and security. We will not cooperate with any initiative which hurts our rights. And I think it would be difficult to speak of a new initiative." (Yasser Abd-Rabbo, PA Information Minister, in morning interview, 7:30)

Morning Headlines 7:00 a.m.

  • "Two martyrs from Dir al-Balah and Silat al-Zahar due to the continuing Israeli aggression and artillery attacks yesterday;
  • The two presidents-President Arafat and President Clinton-discuss events in a telephone conversation last night covering proposals and ideas;
  • Official sources tell the Voice of Palestine that the American peace coordinator Dennis Ross has cancelled his visit to the region and will not (merely) delay it as previously announced;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat heads to the Moroccan capital Rabat for discussion with the Moroccan monarch Muhammad VI and from there to Tunis for talks with Tunisian president Zaid Abdeen Ibn Ali in connection with the decisions of the Arab summit . . . ;
  • Official sources say that what Israeli Broadcasting reported regarding the meeting of President Yasser Arafat with Israeli Tourism Minister Amnon Shahak, with security officials attending, last night is inexact. The meeting included only President Arafat and Shahak;
  • PLO Executive member Feisal Husseini, responsible for the Jerusalem portfolio (in the PLO) is visiting the Swedish capital Stockholm to discuss with officials there the most recent regional developments;
  • Moscow calls on Washinton and London to stop bombing Iraq because it prevents any solution to the Iraqi crisis;
  • Linda Chavez, who appointed by President-elect George Bush as Secretary of Labor, has disengaged from the new administration."

Headlines: Eight a.m. (additional or changed)

  • The martyring of the citizen Muhammad Abu Mreir Sid, 70 years old, from Dir al-Balah, yesterday . . . when fire was opened on him as he worked in the field farming;
  • His excellency President Yasser Arafat called President Clinton, sending him a detailed message early this morning on political developments since the meeting between the two presidents in the White House, and Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, the President's spokesman, said the two presidents agreed on contacts that would take place in coming days;
  • On the other hand, an official source announced that the visit of the American peace coordinator Dennis Ross, that was supposed to take place tomorrow, has been cancelled, for keeps (Arabic: b'shaklin tam: in a final way);
  • Official sources say that what Israeli Broadcasting reported regarding the meeting of President Yasser Arafat with Israeli Tourism Minister Amnon Shahak, with security officials attending, last night is inexact. The meeting included only President Arafat and Shahak;
  • Artillery shellings and heavy weapons by occupation forces in Bab al-Zibabdeh in Jenin and Silwad near Ramallah and in southern Gaza;
  • Four wounded in Israeli shelling on Beit Hanoun in Gaza."

Quotes from Interview with Farouk al Qaddoumi, director of PLO Political Department

"What we have in essence are meetings that continue (inside the context of the Arab summit) in Cairo and with the brother, the President Abu-Amar (Arafat) explaining to those assembled the political context and Palestinian perspective and the reservations we placed-the Palestinian delegation-- on the proposals and ideas broached by President Clinton. And here there is no escaping the fact that we are starting to return to the decisions we took in the past to carry out the main decisions of the Arab summit conference, in the economic and fiscal, and public relations and political spheres.

And in relation to that, there is also no escaping demands for those assembled to (defray) high expenditures . . . there's no question that Arab and Islamic cooperation is necessary for the carrying out of these political decisions in the international arena.

And especially in the Security Council, getting international protection for the Palestinian people . . . .in stopping the siege (Israeli closure) . . . and the mass sanctions on the Palestinian people, and the sectioning-off of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These are the continuing attacks (on the Palestinians. And therefore, there is no escaping putting international pressure on Israel and the United States to stop these acts of terrorism and aggression against the Palestinian people-and to bring to justice these criminals on the Israeli side who carry out criminal operations and assassinations against persons within the Palestinian leadership . . . .

Question: "What about the question of the refugees?"

Answer: "First of all if we go to a commission (to judge war criminals) that the source authority for such a question, the Palestinian question is international legitimacy (i.e. UN resolutions). We refuse any restraints or limitations the operations of any such authority that would give Israel the opportunity to maneuver in such a forum. The source as we have said is the United Nations in all its decisions in the General Assembly and the Security Council, resolution 194 that talks about the right of return for the refugees . . . .There's no getting away from it. Public and world opinion in this matter (realizes) that the question of Palestine is fundamentally, and before anything else, about the return of the refugees to their homes. Secondly, the carrying out of resolution 181 that calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state according to the Partition decision (i.e. a return to an Arab and a Jewish Palestine according to the 1947 partition decision). Also, there is no escaping that there be an assertion of the necessity that the Palestinian people have an independent Palestinian state possessing a sovereignty that has no other conditions placed upon it by Israel or by American proposals.

The American proposals now want to be called a declaration of principles. Well, that is refused. It would deal with things in a general way . . . That is why we refuse such a declaration of principles. We need specific details, clearly. We would prefer the initiative of the first President Bush (i.e. the guidelines to the Madrid Talks in 1991 to which the PLO was not invited but which did not state any specific limitations on UN resolutions) on not on a new declaration of principles."

(In the remainder of the interview, Qaddoumi called for carrying out the establishment of a regular financial support fund for a continuing Intifada)

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Official PA radio news -
the P.B.C. VOP (Voice of Palestine) Radio: January 11th

Summary and Analysis

The Voice of Palestine denied Israeli reports of progress in security talks held Wednesday night, and it reported extensively on Palestinian diplomatic efforts and public demonstrations to have Israeli leaders and officers "tried as war criminals."

VOP specifically denied reports that Israel had agreed to allow a free flow of workers and goods by the end of the week. The VOP report said the Palestinian side-represented by negotiator and PA Home Rule Minister Saeb Erikat-demanded that Israel end its hostilities against the Palestinian people as well as withdrawing forces. VOP made no mention of Israel's security demands, nor did it mention any Palestinian concessions.

Various Palestinian sources denied that there had been any overtures by the PA to Canada or vice versa regarding the settlement of Palestinian refugees in Canada.

In its morning news shows as well as its afternoon news panorama show, VOP said Israel had agreed only to a partial lifting of a small bit of the closure of Palestinian territories

The Palestinian Authority continues to hint-very broadly-that it is badly in need of donations from the Arab states.

The PA's short honeymoon with Ariel Sharon is over. Once again this morning, in several news items, VOP called the Likud leader "the extremist Ariel Sharon," and Arafat's spokesman, Abu-Irdeineh criticized Sharon's campaign speech comment that the Oslo process "is dead."

It appears that Palestinian officials are also troubled by Sharon's comments to the Habad newspaper (in which he noted his concessions were not trying to re-conquer Nablus and Jericho), and PA Minister Nabil Amr indicated that the PA might take an active voice in the Israeli elections. (see interview below)

VOP also had a feature this morning on an Arab-American-run "Intifada radio network" in the United States, with stations in Detroit, Chicago and Washington, among others. The network's organizer, Hikmat al-'Aini, said the network was trying to balance the pro-Israeli tilt in the American media, in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

9 a.m. Thursday Morning Headlines

  • "The newspaper Al Hayat al-Jadida (the official PLO newspaper in the Palestinian territories) reports according to a Palestinian source that the Palestinian-Israeli meeting held last night was devoted to security, and the Israeli side refused to lift the closure on the Palestinian territories, but it agreed to open the transit crossings at Rafah, Karni and Karameh as well as the airport, along with opening the closure on Qalqilya, only.
  • Ten citizens were wounded in a variety of ways in clashes yesterday with occupation forces throughout the homeland;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat will participate in the (Intifada) oversight committee of the Arab summit in the Tunisian capital, which began its deliberations yesterday;
  • The President's advisor, Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, said in a press statement in Marakesh (Morocco) that the National (Palestinian) Authority holds a dialogue with the Israeli government and not with political parties in Israel;
  • Ariel Sharon, the candidate of the Right for the Prime Ministry in Israel, officially launched his election campaign last night with an assembly in occupied Jerusalem; [note: the Likud assembly took place in Western Jerusalem in Binyanei Ha-Ooma]. He said there would not be peace without concessions . . ."

7:00 a.m. / 8:00 a.m. Headlines

  • "A ruling tomorrow in the case of five men accused of cooperation with the Occupation;
  • The American Administration announces the delay -rather than the cancellation-of the Ross Visit;
  • Abd-Rabbo calls for judging Barak and his ministers as war criminals;
  • The Israeli response to the Clinton initiative demands complete control over bordcer crossings and Palestinian weapons;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat meets with King Muhammad VI in Marakesh and heads to Tunis and meets Ben-Ali and the members of the Arab summit oversight committee today;
  • Nablus starts a campagin against illegal cars.
  • Tens of citizens wounded in confrontations with occupation across homeland;
  • Meeting last night in Beit Hanoun check post to discuss putting an end to Israeli aggression against our Palestinian people, involving Dr. Saeb Erikat, General Amin al-Hindi, Col. Muhammad Dahlan and Col. Jibril Rajoub and Col. Tawfik Tirawi, and on the Israeli side, Tourism Minister Amnon Shahak and Avi Dichter, the head of the Gneral Security Service, the Shabak." (some of the 9AM headlines also appeared in 7am and 8am headlines, as well)

Quotes from Interview with Dr. Nabil Sha'ath, PA Minister of Economic Development and Cooperation

Question: "Can you tell us about the discussions in the oversight committee (of the Arab summit)?"

Answer: "Last night, the committee discussed recent developments, the nine states and the General Secretary of the Arab League, Dr. Esmat Abdel-Mejid (also Meguid) under the leadership of Egypt . . . listening to the report of

President Abu Amar (Arafat) the subjects that were discussed at the Arab summit only a small portion of which were executed. . . . Unfortunately, only a small part has been carried out, sponsorship, the call in Switzerland for international protection, for international observers. The billion dollars that have been promised of which only seven million dollars has arrived. All of that was discussed in a serious way . . .

Question: "What is the reason that these monies have not yet reached the (Palestinian) National Authority?"

Answer: "It has to do with the instructions that the sponsoring nations have given to the banks. It has to do with liquid cash funds available in these banks.

Question: "The Foreign Minister of Canada . . . says there are contacts to settle the refugees in Canada?"

Answer: "Absolutely not. The Canadian Prime Minister Chretien raised it during his last visit. This is not the time or the place. We are not studying any such initiatives unless Israel recognizes the right of return as a complete solution to the refugee problem. The question of the refugees rest on international legitimacy, resolution 194."

Quotes from Interview with Nabil 'Amr, PA Parliamentary Afairs Minister

Question: "Where are the negotiations (with Israel) standing now?"

Answer: "The negotiations are not going anywhere. The negotiations deal with political fluctuations. They are concentrating on the results of confrontations. They are being struck by the change in administrations in the United States. They are being struck by the election fever in Israel, and the election fever makes the political stance unstable because Israel is in this election fever . . . .Also we see a linkage between the political situation and he security situation, and all of that is linked to the internal political situation inside Israel . . . .

Question: "Ariel Sharon began his campaign yesterday and said Oslo cannot serve as the basis for peace. What in your opinion is Sharon's idea of peace?"

Answer: "Sharon is trying to apply talking about peace. Sharon is trying to use the language of peace for a few days , and he is trying to demonstrate that he will concretize peace. He is sending various messages to the Arabs, speaking in several voices . . . .All that, the strange thing about it is that it has no substantive connection to peace. The substance is that he says he will not return to Ramallah again, which for him is a concession and that he will not dismantle any settlements under any circumstances. And he says NO concessions in the Jordan (Ghor) Valley and Jerusalem and all these matters. In my view, this is illogical and even immoral . . . .This will lead after a while to war and not to peace . . . .

We will not stand still for something like that. . . . We remember that he brought us Sabra and Chatilla. We have to have a clear agenda . . . .We are gathering information on Sharon and others beside Sharon, and it has to be clear, and (then) we will build a policy based on that."

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Listening to Palestinian Authority Radio: An Assessment

Yasser Arafat is not Adolf Hitler, and Ehud Barak is certainly not Winston Churchill or Charles De Gaulle, but Arafat is a dictator whose strategic goals-like Hitler's-are no secret, if we will only pay attention to what the dictator says.

The British and the French might easily have defeated Hitler-even as late as 1940--by focusing on what he said to his people, rather than what he said to British and French negotiators, according to "Strange Victory," a new book by Professor Ernest R. May of Harvard University.

"Except in cases where he had pledged his word, Hitler always meant what he said," says Professor May, quoting another historian, Sir John Wheeler-Bennett. ("Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France," By Ernest R. May, Hill and Wang, 2000, p. 453)

The same is true of Arafat.

Over the last half year, Arafat has met Barak and President Clinton several times, promising them many things, including a televised denunciation of terror and a clear call for an end to attacks on Israeli civilians. But Yasser Arafat really did not want to call off attacks on Israel, and he really does not like lying to his people about his strategic goals.

So, when Arafat returned from the Sharm al-Sheikh summit on November 2, 2000, Barak, Clinton, CNN, Sky News and the Israeli press all waited with baited breath for Arafat to speak up for peace. At the time, the newest so-called "Intifada" was only five weeks old, and it might have been possible to stop it before it totally destroyed any remnants of the Arab-Israeli peace process.

Everyone waited. BBC waited. CBC waited. Israel's Channel One waited. They all waited and then waited some more. But the first thing Arafat did when he came home from the Sharm al-Sheikh summit was cancelling any televised address to his people. Then, his advisors promised that Arafat would give a live radio address.

After two hours he cancelled that, too, allowing release of a very problematic statement, which, ironically, was broadcast only two hours after a Palestinian car bomb exploded in a crowded Jerusalem market area, murdering several civilians.

The Palestinian communique, which called for Palestinians to use "peaceful means" to achieve national aims, did not condemn the car bombing. Indeed, there was no mention of the bomb blast on VOP Radio (for several hours), nor any clear condemnation of this attack or any earlier violence (except by Israeli forces) at any time during broadcasting today.

"The Palestinian National Authority and the government of Israel reached an understanding for the two sides to implement the understandings of Sharm al-Sheikh as set forth in the statement of President Clinton and the speech of President Mubarrak," the radio statement began.

It was clear that the communique was both more and less than what many Western diplomats and Israeli officials wanted. The PA statement did not speak directly about the need for Palestinian restraint, but it made many demands on Israel, thus leaving potential "escape clauses" for itself if Israel failed to meet all Palestinian conditions.

But what Arafat does tell his people is critically important, because Palestine State Television and the Voice of Palestine Radio are not like the CBC or BBC. They are government organs controlled solely by "the leader, the symbol, his excellency, President Yasser Arafat" (as the official Palestinian broadcast media call him).

Major violence against Israeli civilians and Israeli soldiers (even in joint patrols with Palestinian soldiers) actually began several days before Ariel Sharon's much-discussed visit to the Temple Mount area on September 28.

A September 8 mosque speech broadcast on Palestinian tv (Sheikh Abu-Sneina) said, among other nuanced niceties: "slaughter the Jews."

For days-even weeks--before the Sharon visit, Arafat's official radio and television outlets were mobilizing Palestinians to violence.

On September 26, VOP called for "the defense of Al Aqsa" even as one Israeli was murdered and other injured in an attack on an Israeli civilian convoy in Gaza. VOP radio, keeping to its own standard of "fairness," reported "Israeli atrocities."

The next day, September 27, there were even more calls to violence against Israel, and a Palestinian "policeman" shot his fellow joint-patrol mate, Israeli soldier David Biri. Subsequently Israel State Radio wanted to believe that Arafat really opposes terror and violence. and it broadcast reports that Arafat condemned the attack. In fact, the "condemnation" was really an Arafat phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. VOP radio and Palestinian television broadcast NO report, no quote, no live-voice insert of anything remotely resembling a Palestinian attack on Israelis of any kind-not even attacks on Israeli civilians or Israeli soldiers patrolling together with their Palestinian colleagues.

I have been listening, monitoring and recording Palestinian broadcasts for more than five years, and I am still waiting to hear a clear condemnation of any violence aimed at Israelis. But like those tv crews from CBC, CNN and BBC who waited for Arafat to speak up for peace after returning from Sharm al-Sheikh, I think Arafat will just keep me waiting. [first of two articles)

Michael Widlanski, who holds a certificate in Arabic with distinction from American University of Cairo, holds a Master's Degree in International Relations at Columia University and is now completing his PhD on the subject of the PA media at Bar U Ilan University in Israel.

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