Israel Resource Review 27th January, 2001


Official PA Radio News: Voice of Palestine January 25-26, 2001

Summary and Analysis

Palestinian Authority reversed its one-day condemnation-of-terror policy Thursday night and Friday, following the shooting death of an Israeli civilian near the Atarot industrial zone in northern Jerusalem.

The PA and its Voice of Palestine reverted to what has been the standard policy for the last five years:

  • downplay the attack;
  • describe the victim as a "settler";
  • do NOT identify the attackers or condemn them and their actions: "The killing (maqtal) of an Israeli settler north of occupied Jerusalem. The settler's car was subjected to fire from unknown persons (majhouleen), and he was hit in the head. He gave up the ghost immediately (Arabic: faraqa nafso)." This strange locution-giving up the ghost-has not been heard before
However, calling the murdered man a "settler" was more than a tacit indication that his demise was not to be mourned or condemned.

From 9pm, Thursday evening and through the mosque prayers at 11:30 am Friday, the shooting death of the Israeli, Akiva Pashkos, was generally offered as the fourth or fifth item in the news-with almost identical language above, and the victim was continually identified as "a settler" killed by "unknown men" or "unknown assailants." (After 7 am Friday, the item was taken out of the headlines and included as a tail on other items near the end of news bulletins.)

The labeling of the murdered Jew as a "settler" came even hours after it was widely known and confirmed that the murdered man was NOT A SETTLER but rather an inhabitant of the Bayit Ve-Gan neighborhood in Jerusalem built well before the 1948 war . Similarly, it was widely reported in the Israeli press that the PA knew that the attackers were members of Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization.

In contrast to the low-key approach to the murder of the Israeli, VOP spotlighted the successful capture of Palestinians who had kidnapped two local notables-one of them the council leader of Bir Nabala, Tawfiq Nibali-and ransomed them for 20,000 Jordanian Dinars. The PA press conference announcing the successful mission was covered extensively on VOP where PA security officials including "police chief" General Ghazi Jabali took credit for the capture of the criminals.

In its Friday morning reports, VOP featured-both in headlines and interviews-the pessimistic analysis of Yasser Abd-Rabbo concerning the Taba talks, saying any progress would depend on detailed maps.

The prominent place given the anti-Israeli and somewhat anti-American remarks by Syrian president Bashar Assad and the lengthy quotation of the Syrian newspaper were a warning to Israel as well as a strong though indirect swipe at the out-going Clinton Administration and a warning to the incoming Bush Administration (see headlines below).


Why was there such a sudden change from the unambiguous PA condemnation of the murder of the two restauranteurs in Tulkarm on Tuesday (January 23) and such a sudden departure from the massive VOP coverage of the incident (and the condemnation and the initial promise of an investigation) and the current lack of coverage and condemnation?

There seem to be several answers.

In the first attack:

  • Israeli officials seemed outraged and ready to cut off talks (see Ben-Ami interview with Kobi Meidan, Thursday night/Friday morning "Pgisha B'Shnayim, Israel Ch. 2, 12:05 am);
  • the attack occurred inside a Palestinian city-zone A-with unambiguous Palestinian responsibility;
  • the victims were restaurant owners from Shenkin Street in Tel Aviv who-according to stereotype-would be from the Israeli "peace camp."

    But in the second attack:

  • Israeli officials made no demands and did not seem ready to call off talks or even suspend them until after a funeral;
  • The attack occurred in Zone B in which there is civilian Palestinian control and at least nominal Israeli security control;
  • The attack was not an "execution" carried out in front of witnesses but rather a sniping from afar without witnesses, and the victim was a religious Jew from Jerusalem who worked in the Atarot industrial zone and was likely not a member of the "peace camp."

Friday Morning Round-up Headlines 7am/8am/9am News Bulletin Headlines

  • "Masses of our people will accompany two martyrs to their rest in Rafah;
  • Israeli aggression against our people continues;
  • Palestinian security forces foil a kidnapping operation against the head of the Bir Nabala council;
  • Negotiations between the two sides-the Palestinian and the Israeli-continue tonight in Taba;
  • The Iraqi Tourism Minister condemns the continuing economic siege of his country."
  • Israeli military sources announced last night the shooting of a settler near the al-Ram checkpoint north of occupied Jerusalem. And the sources said that the car driven by the settler was subjected to fire by unknown persons, and he was struck by fire in the head, giving up the ghost immediately. And our correspondent Muhammad Abd-Rabbo says that large forces of the Israeli Occupation Army are carrying out a search operation in the town of al-Ram, especially near the checkpoint where the settler was killed;
  • A special Israeli court today extended the (arrest) custody of the young woman Jawad Muna from Bir Nabala, north of western Jerusalem for another 15 days, to investigate the charges against her in connection with the killing of an Israeli from Ashkelon around a week ago;
  • Syrian President Bashar Assad asserted his view that the policy of former president Bill Clinton failed. His statement came in an interview with the Iranian press service following a metting last night with Iranian president Muhammad Khatami. President Assad said Syria seeks a just and permanent peace….and Assad, who is ending his visit today, announced that Iranian-Syrian relations would work for protection of the interests of the Arab and Islamic nations in the area, especially the Syrian resistance to Zionist force (al-quwa al-sihyouniyya);
  • At the same time Syrian newspapers condemned the American mid-east representative Dennis Ross for complete prejudice towards Israel. And the official newspaper al-Thawra (The Revoluti on) said that Ross was trying to help the candidacy of Barak by taking the side of the Israeli position in all the ongoing negotiations in the Arab-Israeli;

Friday Afternoon January 26 Headlines (1 p.m. news round-up)

  • Occupation forces extend siege of Tulkarm to its third day;
  • (other items similar to morning headlines)

Elements from Friday's mosque speech to be filed in Sunday's report

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Official PA Radio News: Voice of Palestine January 27, 2001

Saturday Night, January 27, Taba talks conclusion

In contrast to the massive Israeli press coverage of the joint Palestinian-Israeli statement in Taba, the Voice of Palestine gave only a small item at 8pm on the talks, and at 9pm, it basically reiterated chief negotiator Ahmad Qreia's (Abu Ala) comment that the main success of the talks was "the removal of ambiguity." VOP did not go to Taba for direct live coverage, not did it feature sound bites from the scene.

In addition, neither Qreia nor any commentator at VOP echoed Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami's optimism that the sides were closer than ever before to agreement.

Interestingly, at the time of the joint press conference in Taba (8:50 pm), VOP was broadcasting a song about martyrs (Arabic: shuhadaa).

Saturday Evening Headlines-January 27, 2001, 8 pm News Bulletin

  • Source close to the Taba talks say that the two heads of delegation-the Palestinian, Ahmad Qreia, and the Israeli, Shlomo Ben-Ami, will give a joint communique tonight that will include the conclusions reached in the negotiations;
  • Eight citizens wounded in various attacks carried out by Israeli occupation forces in various parts of the homeland;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat stresses that our people are striving for an equal (or balanced) peace based on international legitimacy and international laws and the international declarations for the rights of man. He made the remarks in a press conference televised in Europe, stressing the case of the refugees, in Pont a-Terre in France;
  • Ambassador Muhammad Sbeih, the permanent Palestinian representative to the Arab League, asserts that the meeting tomorrow in the league's headquarters in Cairo, will discuss the transfer of financial funds to the (Palestinian) National Authority decided by the last Arab Summit;
  • The world's countries are rushing aid to India in the wake of the earthquake…resulting in 15,000 dead, and 33,000 wounded according to the most recent details."

Nine p.m. Saturday Night Round-up

  • "A joint Palestinian-Israeli communique in Taba a little while ago about what was reached in the marathon talks of the last six days; (other headlines similar to 8 p.m.)

Details of Lead Item

"The two heads of delegation to the talks in Taba-the Palestinian, Ahmad Qreia and the Israeli, Shlomo Ben Ami-issued a joint press communique at the end of the Taba talks. And Ahmad Qreia said in the press conference a short while ago that six days were spent in serious effort discussing the four main issues that are the key to a solution: land, borders, Jerusalem and the refugees. And we reached two important goals: the first removing the ambiguity about our stances and acting as interlocutors and enabling the leadership to take decisions on the questions on the table. Qreia added that there were clashes during the talks but they were deep and serious and enabled a serious discussion between the two delegations, also allowing detailed discussion between the experts for the first time. On the question of Jerusalem, all matters were lain on the table, and on the question of the refugees, the matter of return and resettlement were set forth…There remained gaps between the two sides-large gaps. And Qreia said the serious talks improved the confidence between the two sides. The short period until the Israeli elections does NOT make possible to reach agreement."

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