Israel Resource Review 14th January, 2001


Official PA radio news -
the P.B.C. VOP (Voice of Palestine) Radio: January 12th

Summary and Analysis Beginning with its Thursday night coverage, VOP took a very tepid view of the relaxation of Israeli closures and other measures against the Palestinians. Similarly, despite much ado in the Israeli press about progress in negotiations, VOP broadcast interviews with Palestinian officials who saw little possibility of even achieving an agreed statement of purpose or principles.

VOP also did not broadcast or report any apology by PA Information Minister Yasser Abd Rabbo, who had referred to Ehud Barak and other Israeli officials as war criminals worthy of judgment by a war crimes tribunal. VOP continues to broadcast similar comments by its own broadcasters and reporters regularly-and even more incendiary messages in the Friday mosque addresses which are beamed live at the Palestinian audience.

VOP once again put its emphasis on martyrs and wounded, this time highlighting in Thursday night and Friday reports the Israeli use of gas, which, VOP said, led to the death of one man and the near-suffocation of three children in Jenin.

VOP covered Yasser Araat's report to the Arab summit foreign minister to the effect that Israel was using illegal heavy weapons on civilian targetrs, including uraniaum-tipped artillery shells and bullets

Morning Headlines 7am/8am/9am:

  • "His Excellency President Yasser Araat asserts Israel using heavy weapons and uranium shells against our cities, in report to Arab summit;
  • The high state court confirms a death sentence by firing squad against Majdi Makawi who gave information to the Israelis which led to the death of Jamal Abdel-Razik and others;
  • The Russian news service says that the Russian defense minister will study the use of uranium in former Yugoslavia during a vist there next month;
  • The United Nations environment director says an investigation may be opened into the use of uranium-enriched weapons by the allies in Iraq in 1991.during their aggression in Iraq ."

    1 PM AFTERNOON news round-up and HEADLINES

    • "Masses of our people escort the funeral of the exalted martyr Muhammad Said Hanoun Ghanem at this hour in Jenin;
    • After mosque prayers, crowded mass marches across the homeland in support of the right of the refugees to return to their homes;
    • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat stresses that what the Israeli occupation army has done (to lift closures) to remove part of the siege is NOT sufficient;
    • Minister Yasser Abd-Rabbo says that the National Authority CANNOT accept a declaration of principles;
    • The two sides-Palestinian and Israeli meet last night and say that a great deal separates them from agreement, but agree to meet again."

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    Official PA radio news
    - the P.B.C. VOP (Voice of Palestine) Radio: January 13th

    Summary and Analysis

    Throughout Saturday, the Voice of Palestine gave great prominence to the executions of two men convicted of "cooperation" with Israel, as well as the approval of two more death sentences. Note: this is the only use of "cooperation" in the context of Israel that has been heard on VOP (one week ago, the term was also used in the context of 48 sentences handed down by Lebanese courts-also for "cooperating" with Israel).

    VOP also quoted at length from Friday and Saturday morning interviews with PA Justice Minister Freih Abu-Medein explaining that the two men were convicted of aiding Israel in killing several Fatah and Hamas (Alan Bani Odeh gave information regarding Ibrahim Beni Odeh, who worked for Hamas) operatives.

    In its broadcasts Friday midnight and Saturday morning, VOP published interviews with PA officials-or quotes from them (including who said the differences between the PA and Israel remained far greater than what was described by Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami.

    PA Gaza Security chief Muhammad Dahlan said he was waiting to see more changes "on the ground," and Information Minister Yasser Abd-Rabbo once again delcared that the PA would refuse another declaration of principles.

    Quote of the Day

    "Anyone we lay our hands on will not merit the mercy of the Palestinian people or the mercy of Palestinian law." (Justice Minister reih Abu-Medein, Saturday morning interview 7:30 AM, January 13)

    Friday Midnight Headlines-January 12/13

    • "His Excellency President Arafat tonight confirmed the death sentences to be carried out Saturday morning of two agents working for Israel;
    • The occupation authorities are still holding the body of Shakil al-Husseini, 33 years old, in Hebron;,
    • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat says the National Authority is continuing to study the results of its meeting the day before yesterday with the Israeli side at the Beit Hanoun crossing in Gaza;
    • Home Rule Minister Dr. Saeb Erikat said another meeting with the Israeli side would take place Saturday night."

    Saturday Morning Headlines, January 13

    • "The martyring of Shakil Hassuna in Hebron (note: his name was reported slightly differently the night before);
    • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat approves two death sentences by state security courts to be carried out on two agents in Nablus and Gaza;
    • The gap between the Palestinian and Israeli sides remains large as talks loom tonight;
    • The Palestinian National Authority demands an active European role in the peace process and the end of violence by Israel against our people;
    • The head of the Political Department, Farouk Qaddoumi, goes to Iraq for discussions with Iraqi officials about aid Iraq has promised to the Palestinian people;
    • A human rights report says Israeli police cold-bloodedly attacked our people inside the Green Line last September;
    • A full report in this broadcast on the state of the Israeli elections and a profile of the Likud candidate, Ariel Sharon."

    Quotes from Saturday Interview with Freih Abu Medein

    Question: "Death sentences for two agents working for Israeli occupation forces. What is the hour of execution?"

    Answer: "Before noon today in Nablus and Gaza at about the same time."

    Question: "Who are the agents?"

    Answer: "The first agent is the one responsible for the deaths of our men in Rafah, and he is, unfortunately, a close friend (Note: could also be relative) of one of the martyrs..It is difficult, a difficult treatment..But Israel is carrying out a war, a war of assassinations. Therefore we think we have to take measures, such as the death sentence, in confronting the difficult circumstances facing the Palestinian people..The other traitor also is a cousin of the man killed: Bani-Odeh, his name is Alan Bani Odeh, responsible for the assassination of the martyr Ibrahim Bani-Odeh, one of the elements of the Hamas. The president approved the decision immediately yesterday. We didn't do this before. It was Ramadan, and you don't carry out such a sentence in Ramadan."

    Question: "There are many assassinations and many agents in our people. How many more sentences like this can we expect?"

    Answer: "There will be sentence this week of the agent responsible for the death of (Hussein) 'Obayat in Bethlehem. And anyone we lay our hands on will not merit the mercy of the Palestinian people or the mercy of Palestinian law. Palestinian blood is pure blood and may not be spilled by agents. General (Shaul) Mofaz and the army (i.e. Israeli chief of Staff and his army) has all kinds of information and is carrying out war crimes on Palestinian land."

    Question: "So there will be death sentences carried out against two traitors, but my question is can we expect more?"

    Answer: "Perhaps there will be ten to 15 more people, but we're not fond of death sentences. If there are people in the security services, in the police, in the intelligence in the West Bank and the same thing in Gaza, if they turn themselves in to any office of the Ministry of Justice, we will treat the matter quickly and generously.

    Saturday Night Headlines - January 13-9 p.m. / 10 p.m.

    • "A Palestinian-Israeli Security and Political meeting continues at this hour in Gaza with the participation of President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Regional Development Minister Shimon Peres;
    • Nabil Abu-Irdeineh says the meeting is covering the main elements in the negotiations and the peace process, among them Jerusalem, the refugees, the settlements and borders as well as putting an end to Israeli aggression against our people. And Abu-Irdeineh stressed that any agreement would have to lean on international legitimacy: resolutions 242, 338 and 194 which specializes in the return of the refugees."

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    Official PA radio news -
    The P.B.C. VOP (Voice of Palestine) Radio: January 14th

    Summary and Analysis

    In its Sunday morning broadcasts, the VOP news coverage was fairly evenly divided between three subjects:

    • Continuing talks on final status issues, despite Palestinian views that nothing substantive is being accomplished;
    • Continuing coverage of and protest about Israel's "aggression against the Palestinian people," particularly Israel's "assassination policy" and its refusal to remove all military and economic obstacles;
    • Detailed coverage and defense of yesterday's two executions of Palestinian "traitors" and the planned executions today of two more men convicted of "cooperating with Israel."

    VOP featured Sheikh Ikrema al-Sabry saying that Islam mandated the execution of traitors, and VOP narrators actually poked fun at "those who call themselves human rights activists," such as Bassam Eid, for criticizing the death sentences.

    Col. Tawfik Tirawi described the intelligence activities of those condemned to death: turning information over to Israel about key Fatah and Hamas activists later killed by Israeli forces. Tirawi (who has himself been accused by Israeli officers of planning terrorist acts) defended the trials and death sentences, saying, "Everything, the trial is over in a legal manner. There were judges. There were defense lawyers. Everything was according to the complete processes of law."

    In a morning interview, Yasser Abd-Rabbo said Israel was trying to insert the American initiative as a replacement text for UN resolutions-something that was unacceptable to the Palestinians. Similar sentiments were aired in an interview with nabil Abu-Irdeineh, Arafat's spokesman and advisor.

    Quotes of the Day

    1."The head of general intelligence in the West Bank, Col. Tawfik Tirawi, calls on all those who have deviated to the Devil's path (Arabic: tariq al-Shaitan) to return to goodness and to turn themselves in to the security forces and to describe in details their crimes before it's too late." (Sunday morning news round-up headlines, 7:03 am, January 14)

    2."Pursuant to criminal law 113/111, sub paragraph 16 we decide the following: one, death for the criminal Muhammad al-Khatib [ten seconds of loud applause in background and cries of joy from crowd, described as being about 250 people in Bethlehem Court], death for the criminal Hussam al-Din Musa [five seconds of loud applause including shots of Allahu Akbar-God is Great]." (Judge Fathi Abu-Shuri, head of State Security Court, in report by Sayyid Ayyad, Bethlehem, morning report, 7:30 am)

    3. "I think this is a victory for the Palestinian people, and a strenthening of the steadfastness and the protection for those who are struggling as fighters for the Palestinians ….Really this is a blow for the supreme Palestinian interest and for stability of the homeland and the stable security of the Palestinian state… Their only chance to save themselves is to turn themselves in. There will be no mercy for any spy or any agent who spills Palestinian blood (who gets caught without turning himself in) (Kamil Hmeid, Fatah secretary in Bethlehem, interviewed about death sentences in Bethlehem court, 7:50 am)

    4. "I say to those who have sold themselves to Israel, or to the Devil, they will not find anyone who will pray for them just as those who were who were rightly sentenced to death, and they will not find any place to be buried, because even their families refused to pray for them….Therefore they should step forward and turn themselves in to the security services." (Col Tawfik Tirawi, head of General Intellegence for the West Bank in the Palestinian Authority, 7:58 am)

    Sunday Morning Headlines 7 a.m.

    • "The Palestinian-Israeli meeting with the participation of his excellency President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Regional Development Minister Shimon Peres ends without any concrete results;
    • A continuation of meetings in coming days;
    • The Palestinian side asserts that the American ideas form a new basis (or source authority) for the peace process, and the Palestinian side clings to the basis of international legitimacy (i.e. UN resolutions) on whose authority the peace process was launched;
    • The Palestinian side declares at the talks that began yesterday THE COMPLETE PALESTINIAN REFUSAL for a new basis…demanding assurances for execution (of the agreement) on the ground;
    • The arbitrary (also tyrannical) Israeli measures, aggression and siege and the evil assassinations lingered in the (discussion) meeting as President Arafat demanded their immediate cessation and an investigation of the crimes;
    • The state security court hands down death sentences for two agents in Bethlehem and lie imprisonment for another two, and (other) death sentences are carried out yesterday in Nablus and Gaza;
    • Sheikh Ikrema al-Sabry, the Jerusalem Mufti and the Palestinian sage, says that he who does not firmly against traitors undermines the legitimacy of God's law;
    • The head of general intelligence in the West Bank, Gen. Tawfik Tirawi, calls on all those who have deviated to the Devil's path (Arabic: tariq al-Shaitan) to return to goodness and to turn themselves in to the security forces and to describe in details their crimes before it's too late;
    • Finance Minister Muhamad Zu'di Nashashibi describes the difficulties resulting from the failure of the Arab countries to fulfill their obligations quickly to turn financial sums over to the Palestinian National Authority in the face of tyrannical Israeli measures."

    8 a.m. Sunday Morning Headlines

    • " His Excellency President Yasser Arafat receives Regional Development Minister Shimon Peres in Gaza last night along with the Israeli delegation headed by Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami;
    • Nabil Abu-Irdeineh says the meeting dealt with final status issues and the need to reach agreement on these issues;
    • State Security court hands down yesterday death sentences by firing squad to the two agents Muhammad al-Khatib and Hussam al-Din Musa for high treason. In addition it sentenced Hanna Mansour Hanna Salameh and Muhammad Awadallah to life imprisonment for treason and assaults against the Fatah Movement. And Mr. Freih Abu-Medein, the Justice Minister, called on all agents to turn themselves in security officials;
    • Dr. Nabil Sha'ath, Minister of Economic Development, reviews with the Norwegian foreign minister the most recent developments taking place in Palestinian lands;
    • Advisor on National Security to the American President, Sandy Berger, says much work is needed to achieve agreement before President Clinton leaves office on the 20th of this month;
    • One youth wounded by occupation forces at southern approaches to Qalqilya;
    • Israeli occupation forces arrest Engineer Jamil Nurawri, head of engineering for Palestinian Broadcasting
    • His Holiness Pope John Paul II calls for executing the principles of international legitimacy in the Palestinian lands…."

    10 a.m. Sunday Morning Headlines
    (repetition of top headlines from 7/8 am) and . . .

    • "Minister of Information Yasser Abd-Rabbo says the Palestinian side will NOT accept another declaration of principles…demands a full and complete settlement based on international legitimacy."

    Quotes from Interview with PA Information Minister, Yasser Abd Rabbo

    "We will not accept that these new (American) thoughts or initaitives become the new basis for the peace process. The source authority for the process remain what it was. We accept clear differences, but there was no progress achieved.

    The discussion was a serious one, perhaps, but there was nothing that was executed or carried out in terms of progress at the meeting. It was agreed that discussions would continue in the coming days to continue discussions on these subjects." (Abd Rabbo was asked about Israeli attempts to take the talks from the basis of UN resolutions to a basis of the American ideas, and he said…)

    "There's no doubt from what was said that that's the new intention.hey said they wanted to reach an agreement. We said we wanted to reach an agreement, but such an agreement cannot be a declaration of general principles because such a declaration would not help the peace process at all. It would just a collection of headlines and slogans. What's needed is a comprehensive and detailed agreement which deals with all matters, which deals with the costs of implementations and international guarantees on the obligations for implementation so that there will not be any evasion for implementation…as there was in the past. That's the basic thing, and we believe that the Israeli side understood that a declaration of principles or general remarks …is not something that can be realized, and the Palestinian side cannot accept it. What is needed is a serious agreement, really an agreement whose implementation can begin the following day and not an agreement whose negotiation or the negotiation of whose central points begins the following day."

    "I want to say there's no escaping (our need) to express our readiness to continue with the peace process, unless we're convinced that there's progress or not (because), it is impossible to close the door to negotiations and the peace process because of the comprehension of the world, of public opinion, of public opinion in Israel for our positions. (We have no choice but) We have to continue on our part, in our policy, and there is nothing that has been found that can prevent us from attempting negotiations until there are no results."

    Asked about security considerations, Abd-Rabbo said

    "I don't like talk about implementing security. We have just and clear demands such as lifting the encirclement and the closure and the violations being practiced against the Palestinian people on a daily basis. We have indicated that, and the evil actions such as the evil transfer of (the body) and the mutilation of exalted martyr in Hebron in front of world television cameras. All these actions show that these sort of actions must stop…for the sake of the peace process, if we really want a peace process."

    Quotes from report by Nizar al-Ghul, concerning executions:

    "In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful…(reads verse from Quran regarding treatment of those who have evil spirits, then continues)…Indeed these agents cast evil on themselves and on those around them, and this week was a week characterized by settling accounts with those who made blood cheap, as witness what happened to the agent Bani-Odeh before the sentence of God and the people was carried out, who stood head bowed, falling quickly and quietly in the street as the bullets of holiness and justice brought him to the ground."

    (Report went on the describe trial verdict of Bethlehem court where two more death sentences were handed down-as per report by Sayyid Ayyad. Note: lead-in to Al-Ghul's report was anchorman again reading parts of yesterday's interview with Freih Abu-Medein, Justice Minister, calling for all enemy agents to turn themselves in]

    Islamic Defense of Death Penalty

    "When someone sinks to treason and serving as an agent, then Islamic law permits him to be condemned to death. We are in favor of executing anyone who sinks to serving as an agent against the Muslim collective." (Sheikh Ikrema al-Sabry, Jerusalem Mufti, 7:53 am)

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    Understanding Arafat as a Media Strategist
    Michael Widlanski

    There are many ways to describe Yasser Arafat, but whether one tends to call him a "politician," "statesman" or "terrorist," any fair estimation of Arafat would have to call him an "Egyptian intellectual."

    Arafat studied in Egypt (some say he was born in Egypt), and to this day his Arabic is inflected with Egyptian intonation and phrases. More importantly, during his formative years-the 1950's and early 1960's-he watched admiringly as Egyptian President Gamal Abdul-Nasser projected power across the Middle East (from Morocco to Iran) through powerful propaganda broadcasts on broadband radio.

    Today, Arafat is using his broadcast media as he builds his own state of Palestine in his own image.

    When Israel signed Israeli-Palestinian "Declaration of Principles" in September 1993 (as well as later sub-treaties under the "Oslo Accords"), it agreed to turn over radio and television frequencies to Arafat's control as part of three processes: Peace, state-building and mutual cooperation.

    In the seven years since, Arafat has NOT used his broadcast outlets in the peace process or in the process of building mutual cooperation. Indeed, the term "cooperation" or "ta'awun" in Arabic is NEVER USED IN THE CONTEXT OF ISRAEL.

    However, Arafat unstintingly employs the broadcast media in the state-building process, largely to preserve his own leadership but also to advance Palestinian goals, particularly in the current Palestinian-Israeli war that Palestinians have called by two names: the Al-Aqsa Intifada or the Independence Intifada.

    Arafat and his top ministers make no attempt to hide from their own people that the "Intifada" is really a war with strategic goals, and what are their strategic goals?

    1. Removal of all settlements, all soldiers and all things Israeli
    2. Establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem its capital
    3. "Return of the Palestinian refugees to their homes in 1948"

      "We salute you, O fighters for Jerusalem with zeal and steadfastness, spilling your pure blood in your blessed struggle for victory and Arabness….It is now three weeks into our blessed Intifada against the failed attempts of the Enemy….Today we as Palestinians to remain coiled for use by our struggle and our Leadership and our Palestinian National Authority which has defended and which will to defend the freedom of our land and the freedom of mankind…to mold the blood of our martyrs and our wounded into national unity…to follow the leadership of our leader, the brother, Abu Amar (nickname for Yasser Arafat) on the path to sacred Jerusalem." (From "Mishwar al-Sabah" [The Morning Dialogue], 8:30 am, Friday, Oct27

      Another theme is that even though the Palestinians instigated the Intifada (and they admit it) Israel is the aggressor. Therefore, any military measures Israel takes are by definition aggression, and any military actions taken against Israel CANNOT be terrorism. That is why anyone who dies fighting Israel-even if he blows up a bomb in Netanya (which was NOT conquered in 1967)-is called a "martyr" or "shahid" in Arabic.

      For the last three months, Palestinian radio and television broadcasts open with salutes to the "exalted martyrs" of that day's fighting who are called "stars of the Intifada."

      Another favorite theme on the Palestinian broadcast media is that Israeli claims to Jerusalem are a forgery.

      "There never was Heikal Suleiman (Solomon's Temple) in Jerusalem.(From broadcasts of November 13-14). And the Palestinians and the Canaanites were both in Jerusalem many years before the Jews."

      Arafat's media strategy is an integral-if not THE central-element in his war-making strategy, according to senior Palestinian officials such as cabinet secretary Ahmad Abdul-Rahman and PBC broadcast chief Radwan Abu-Ayyash.

      "We have to use all means-from broadcasting to newspapers to foreign correspondents to the internet-to use all these means to defeat Israel." (Interview with Ahmad Abdul-Rahman, 7:30 am, November 12)

      Another ironic insight into Arafat's strategic view is that Arafat and the Palestinian Authority have contempt for the Israeli peace movement.

      That is why Yasser Arafat in his address to the Islamic Summit in October frequently used the term "Jihad" or holy war while explicitly making fun of "Peace Now" when he said "There will be no peace now and no peace that sanctifies Israeli occupation."

      Arafat and his top ministers might easily come out of the pages of George Orwell's "1984": "peace" becomes "war." The rocks, gasoline bombs, suicide bombers, Palestinian policemen-turned-snipers are all part of what the Palestinian broadcast media call "al-intifada al-silmiyya"-the "peaceful intifada." Or as General Tawfiq Tirawi, the head Paelstinian military intelligence, said in a New Year's Interview: "Dialogue can be by words or by bullets and fire."

      Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen)he secretary of the PLO Executive was quoted at 2:10pm on September 25 saying, "The peaceful intifada of the Palestinian people will continue until the Palestinian people have secured their rights completely."

      One of these "rights" is "hawq al-'awda": the right of return-meaning the return to pre-1967 Israel of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Many intellectuals in Israel fooled themselves into thinking that Arafat had retreated from this demand and that he "didn't really mean it" when he kept talking about this issue on the Palestinian media.

      If more Israeli and Western "intellectuals" paid attention to what the "Egyptian intellectual," Yasser Arafat, broadcasts to his people, they would have been less surprised by his recent actions. They would also have a better idea of what Arafat means when he uses the word "peace."

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