Israel Resource Review 25th January, 2001


Official PA radio news - the P.B.C. VOP (Voice of Palestine) Radio: January 23-24

Tuesday Night, January 23rd

  • "The National Authority condemns the killing of two Israeli civilians and is beginning an investigation into the details of the incident;
  • Israel suspends the talks in Taba until after the funeral of the two Israelis killed in Tulkarm:
  • Ahmad Qreia, the head of the Palestinian delegation in Taba says the talks will be divided into four committees-Jerusalem, land, refugees and dismantling the settlements;
  • Qreia rejects the comments by the Israeli prime minister asserting the establishment of joint control of the Old City (of Jerusalem);
  • The European representative Moratinos arrives in Taba to participate in the talks;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat tonight ends his visit to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

Summary and Analysis, Wednesday, January 24

During the Wednesday evening and night broadcasts, VOP said the PA was leaving its delegation in Taba, waiting a response from Israel on the talks.

VOP continued to condemn-through the evening hours-- the Tulkarm murders of two Israelis, blaming the action on "dubious and irresponsible elements," but it did not name them or announce steps against them. (This in contrast to reports leaked by Palestinian sources to the Israeli press asserting that the PA had made arrests of Palestinians suspected of involvement in the murders.) In addition, during the morning round-up, anchorman Samir Interr read a PA statement reiterating condemnation of any attack on civilians on either side.

The unusually direct language employed by VOP and the PA-istankara/yastankiru and adana/yudinu (both meaning to condemn in Arabic) have almost never been used on VOP in reference to an attack on Israelis, though they are always used to describe attacks on Palestinians. And, as reported last night, it seems clear that the unambiguous condemnation had less to do with a real change of heart inside the PA than with the need to placate Israel enough so that it would not walk out of the talks completely. Still, the addition of the words "dubious and irresponsible elements" somewhat palliates and assuages the first condemnation given last night at 9pm, and it is similar in some ways to two or three previous announcements of "disapproval" of attacks on Israelis for being "counter-productive."

On the other hand, the PA took a restrained and even an understanding approach to the Israeli decision to suspend talks, suggesting it was a shame they were delayed just when they had become serious.

At the same time, through a long morning interview feature with lead negotiator Ahmad Qreia (and a long afternoon interview with Saeb Erikat, and two long interviews yesterday with Yasser Abd-Rabbo) the Palestinian Authority made clear that there had been little concrete progress in the talks. Qreia, Erikat and Abd-Rabbo each said the PA was sticking to UN resolutions as the basis for any framework for final peace, while, they said, the Israelis were clinging to "American ideas"---i.e. the framework proposal of Bill Clinton.

7 a.m. Wednesday Morning Headlines

  • Israel suspends the talks after the killing of two Israelis in the Tulkarm area, and Occupation soldiers clamp a reinforced closure on the area, locking-down all entry points in the (Palestinian) national Authority;
  • Shortly before the suspension of the talks, the talks entered a serious stage with the exchange of ideas, although the gap between the two sides remains wide;
  • The National Authority condemns the killing of the two Israelis in the Tulkarm area, and it asserts that this operation was carried out by elements considered dubious and irresponsible;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat returns to the homeland after a visit to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia during which he met with Saudi monarch King Fahd ibn-Abd-al-Aziz and senior Saudi officials;
  • The Saudi government declared its full and firm support for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Leadership in its quest for a complete and just peace based on international legitimacy."

Later Wednesday Morning Headlines -- 8am/ 9am News Bulletin Headlines

  • "Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak recalls his delegation from the Taba talks for consultations after the killing of two Israelis near Tulkarm last night;
  • The (Palestinian) National Authority condemns the incident which was committed by an irresponsible element;
  • The occupation authorities strengthened their siege on the Tulkarm area, closing the one major highway between nablus and Jenin;
  • His Excellency President Arafat returns to the homeland last night after an official visit to Suadi Arabia in which he conducted talks with the monarch King Fahd and senior Saudi officials on ways to end Israeli aggression and support to our people in fighting this aggression;
  • The head of the Palestinian delegation to the Taba talks Ahmad Qreia declared that he saw no real breakthrough in the talks which were supposed to continue in four committees: Jerusalem, the refugees, maps of the withdrawal, and a timetable for the dismantling of settlements. But Mr. Qreia said the talks were deep, serious and detailed;
  • The religious leaders of the Shas movement, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, strongly calls on the members of his movement to vote for the extremist leader of the Likud, Ariel Sharon, in the elections for prime minister."

Quote of the Morning

"The gap remains wide on all the issues."
                (Ahmad Qreia, assessing negotiations in morning interview 7:20 am-see other quotations below)

Quotes from Interview with Ahmad Qreia, leader of PA delegation, speaker of PA legislature, (7:15 a.m.)

Question: "There is a report of great progress in the talks. What's the truth?"

Answer: "There is absolutely no breakthrough, and there is also no progress until now in any of the subjects under discussion. But I cannot but that the talks are serious, really, especially in the exchange of ideas on the matters up for discussion: land, borders, Jerusalem, refugees, security.

These are the matters up for discussion, and the discussion is serious. We are discussing on the basis of stances that are completely known to us and a source authority which is known completely to us. But until now, there has been NO progress on any matter

Question: "There are reports of movement regarding understandings related to the American ideas?

Answer: "Firstly, we asserted that the American ideas would NOT be a basis for the talks. We will not accept that, and we have said so officially. The basis for the talks for us is clear, and that is international legitimacy and the interests of the Palestinian people and its rights."

Question: "What about the settlements?"

Answer: "The settlements are not an item on the agenda. The item on the agenda is the matter of land and borders, and the land is Palestinian land, and the borders are Palestinian borders. And the settlements are not part of the negotiations."

Question: "There's been talk, Ehud Barak is talking about the Old City (of Jerusalem) being a special area under joint administration.

Answer: "Absolutely nothing has been discussed about it. And we will not talk on the basis of what Mr. Barak says during the election campaign."

Question: "After all these talks, are you more optimistic something can be reached? Will time suffice?"

Answer: "I cannot but say that the talks are serious. But they will require serious decisions by the Israeli side. If the Israeli side, if it's in its power to make hard decisions, then I can say there will be a complete and just and permanent peace with security and stability in the region. But if the Israeli government is not able to make brave decisions.then the matter will be difficult."

Question: "What about the question of the refugees? Have the stances changed?"

Answer: "Nothing has changed, absolutely. The Palestinian stance is firmly based on the right of return. And the Israeli stance is firm, disavowing this right, that is, basing itself on the thoughts of Clinton."

In his 2PM afternoon interview, Erikat stressed the right of return - even to Tel Aviv, and his remarks were re-broadcast through the evening hours.

Quote of the afternoon

"Actually in this bazaar, the maps are still open.. Does Mr. Barak think that there is one Palestinian who will accept less than what President Clinton suggested?"
                (Dr. Saeb Erikat in afternoon interview VOP 2:35 / 2:45 p.m.)

Quotes from Interview with Saeb Erikat, PA Home Rule Minister and negotiator, 2:30 p.m., Panorama Magazine Show

Question: "Dr. Erikat when will the talks resume?"

Answer: "In the next hour we expect to hear from the Israelis, and if not, we'll contact them. We'll wait today. They realize that we seriously seek peace. We know the situation on the ground which is pressing to the Palestinian people. That is to day we are living it along with the talks. The Israelis just killed a fourteen-year-old child in Gaza. ..And after all that we are here (in Taba for talks), and the aggression continues, and the siege, and the killing. (We're here) for the sake of a comprehensive solution. If the Israeli side does not come back today, that is (death) sentencing the talks--Back to square one..

Question: "They're not interested in continuing the talks, then?"

Answer: "The problem is with the Israeli political position. With all due candor. For the last three months, we've had talks-deep, broken, varied-and for a second, we're holding on the Jerusalem issue. The Jerusalem issue is something President Clinton grabbed in his ideas, and we said these ideas are not comprehensive and that we have reservations. And the ideas were that Palestinian neighborhoods in the Old City would under Palestinian sovereignty, and as such Haram al-Quds-al-Sharif (the Jerusalem holy shrine, i.e. Temple Mount/Mosque area) would be under Palestinian sovereignty. But according to Barak's statements in the last two days we find that even the Clinton ideas-which were not accepted by the Palestinian side except with reservations-Israel has regressed from what it said. Now it's a holy site and joint rule etc. We will not listen to this in the talks. We will not listen to this. I'll say it again. We won't listen to this. Because Jerusalem is covered by 242 and the Israeli withdrawal to the borders of June 4 1967.

Actually in this bazaar, the maps are still open. From 66 percent to 14 percent to gradual withdrawal of the occupation. In Stockholm they raised the percentage to 76 percent and 12 percent. And in Camp David they raised it to around 89 percent. After Camp David, Clinton threw out the idea of the withdrawal from land being complete in the Gaza Strip and 94-96 percent of the (West) Bank. The philosophy of the suq (market or bazaar) is operating. We are working for the realization of the withdrawal to the point of June 4 1967.

Now before Taba, the Israeli side threw down (on the bargaining table) Maps. (Note: at this point, Erikat ticked off some more percentage figures but his words and context were not completely clear, though his tone throughout was strongly condescending towards Israeli negotiators)but these maps are clear in that they (the Israelis) want settlement belts in the region of Ariel, a settlement belt around Jerusalem and a settlement belt around the region of Bethlehem and Gush Etzion. And the Israeli side gave up all its demands for the Jordanian Ghur (Jordan Valley) and the River Jordan. It has no demands on the Jordan Valley and the River Jordan, on the Dead Sea on the line of forty-two kilometers from Jericho to the end of (line) of '67. It gave up its demands in Hebron..(ticks off a host of more Israeli concessions).but we found that there was no change in the maps in Taba, and we expected they would get down to maps.and we would open up the question of mutual exchange (i.e. exchanging formerly Jordanian-controlled West Bank territory which Israel wants to retain in exchange for pre-67 Israeli territory that Israel would cede to the Palestinian Authority for inclusion in a Palestinian state), but unfortunately they did not choose to do that.

In the question of security and Jerusalem. In the security committee I serve with Muhammad Dahlan. Well in security there was NO change since Camp David. In other words these were just provocative Israeli demands with which we just cannot work. So it was with airspace. So it was with Israeli role under an international protection force. And this was true in other demands, too.

In the question of the refugees the talking style of Yossi Beilin changed to the style of Elyakim Rubinstein."

Question: "And the content?"

Answer: "The content did not change at all.. We say that Israel has to recognize the right of return (pauses for emphasis)-to Israel.

From this derives (the question of) the costs and the modalities and the benefits of the refugee (returning) to his homeland. But he has the benefit of returning to his home..

The real Israeli position is far from allowing any agreement."

Question: "What about the talk in the media of joint Palestinian-Israeli control over the Old City and involving Israeli control over Jewish (holy) places in the Old City?"

Answer: "That is refused, completely and categorically. We stand by resolution 242. You know, even the proposal of President Clinton. About which we have many reservations, and about which President Arafat stated many reservations, spoke of Palestinian sovereignty on Palestinian places in the Old City, including the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount/mosque area). Does Mr. Barak think that there is one Palestinian who will accept less than what President Clinton suggested?

Question: "About the exchange of territory and the three Israeli settlement belts, is there a possibility of agreement on four or five percent?"

Answer: "We have not spoken, that is, we say the borders are from June 4, 1967, and from that we must have one hundred percent of the Palestinian homeland, of its territorial integrity.."

Question: "In other words, up to this moment you have not sketched out even one item on the agenda?"

Answer: " We have not completed the sketching out of anything."

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Official PA radio news - P.B.C. VOP (Voice of Palestine) Radio: January 25

Summary and Analysis

VOP began its broadcasts Thursday with news of a new martyr in Rafah in Gaza and new confrontations with Israeli forces in northern parts of the West Bank, but it also gave great prominence to a phone call between Yasser Arafat and Colin Powell-touted as the first official contact between the Palestinian Authority and the new Bush Administration.

At the same time, VOP reported talks with Israel would resume this afternoon. VOP quoted PA officials Thursday morning as saying that if Israel had not responded by last night with a decision for resumption of talks, then the PA would have left the talks.

VOP reported this morning that PA health officials had sent 14 people injured in recent fighting to university hospitals in Teheran Iran for treatment, and it also reported that Iraq anti-aircraft gunners claimed to have struck a British or American plane over-flying northern Iraq.

VOP once again featured the commentary of Saeb Erikat on the talks: Israel is retrenching and demanding things that it had already conceded, i.e. Jordan Valley and joint control of Temple Mount. Erikat's comments-first offered in a lengthy afternoon interview yesterday-- were recycled as news stories today through the 2PM and 4PM afternoon news round-ups.

Thursday Morning Round-up Headlines

  • A Martyr in Rafah, and violent confrontations in Tulkarm and Ramallah;
  • President Yasser Arafat in his first contact with the new American administration;
  • Israel return to Taba today following the suspension of the talks for two days;
  • Barak apologizes twice for the killing of 13 Palestinians inside the Green Line about two months ago (Note: this is a mistake-the deaths were almost four months ago);
  • Palestine participates in the gathering of the interior ministers of Arab states in Tunis."

Thursday Morning Headlines -- 7am/8am/9am News Bulletin Headlines

  • "His Excellency President Yasser Rafat receives a telephone call from the new Secretary of State of the United States Colin Powell, and Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, the president's advisor, said that the conversation, the first with the new Administration, dealt with developments in the peace process and the review by the American administration of the continuation of the process;
  • Minister of Information Yasser Abd-Rabbo asserted his estimation that the negotiations would continue today, indicating that the Palestinian delegation would withdraw and depart Taba if the Israeli delegation does not arrive to continue the talks;
  • Dr. Saeb Erikat reveals the Israeli side's regression (also reversal or pullback or retrenchment) of its demands for the continuation of its occupation of the Ghur Valley (Jordan Valley), the Jordan River and parts of Hebron (see yesterday's interview text);
  • Israeli Occupation forces concentrated in the colony of Kfar Yam opened rifle fire on residents' houses in Rafah, wounding two citizens seriously;
  • Violent confrontations between citizens and occupation forces near Ramallah and el-Bireh last night.and occupation forces shell El-Bireh with heavy artillery;
  • Settlers are pursuing building operations in Tel Rumeida in Hebron;
  • Israeli Occupation forces close Rafah terminal on Palestinian-Egyptian border in surprise move only two weeks after terminal was re-opened;
  • Israeli Occupation authorities prevent director of Palestinian broadcasting and director of radio and director of television from returning to Ramallah after participating in media meeting in Gaza;
  • The lawyer Osama Sad, who is representing the family of the child martyr Hilmi Shusha Husan who was killed in Bethlehem four years ago demands the cancellation of the pleas bargain agreement set for the terrorist killer Nahum Korman;
  • Iraq announces that its missile forces struck an American or British plane that was flying over northern Iraq."

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