Israel Resource Review 29th January, 2001


Official PA radio news - the P.B.C. VOP (Voice of Palestine) Radio: January 29

Summary and Analysis

In its Monday afternoon and evening broadcasts on January 29, VOP stressed remarks by Yasser Arafat at Davos (World Economic Forum) that "totally rejected" any "resettlement of refugees" and "leaving any refugees in Lebanon." The prominent playing of the remarks (and the remarks themselves) are testimony to the pressure that Arafat feels from the refugee constituency that is worried about signs that the Palestinians and the Israelis may be drawing closer at the expense of the refugees' ultimate demand: return to their homes.

Earlier in the day, VOP concentrated on Yasser Arafat's speech in Davos, stressing his detailed attack on Israeli aggression and savagery. His speech was essentially read out by an in-studio anchorwoman, rather than broadcasting Arafat's speech itself (perhaps because of the slow speed of his speech), and the speech itself was repeated after the morning new round-up at 8:30 a.m.

At 4:30 p.m., an Israeli was shot and killed near Ramallah.

In its 5 p.m. Monday afternoon bulletin, VOP had no coverage of the shooting of an Israeli on a road not far from Ramallah.

By 6 p.m., VOP was already reporting the death of the "settler" (whose identity was still unknown) and linking it to the nearby settlement of Adam "which was built on lands taken from (the Arab village) Jab'a."

This formula-calling the victim a settler (whether true or not) and linking the site of the incident to Israeli land confiscation (whether true or not) is VOP's way of signaling that the shooting is neither condemned, nor even for acts like it to be discouraged in the future. The news item was enlarged at 7pm, stressing Israel's barbaric searches and closure of the area.

Monday Evening Opening Headlines - 6 p.m.

  • "The youth Muhammad Nafiz Abu-Moussa, 21 years old, was martyred this morning, from two shots in the stomach fired on him by Israeli occupation soldiers near the Tufah checkpoint near Khan Yunis. And sources in the hospital said that the two bullets that martyred Abu-Moussa were 500-millimeter bullets.;
  • An Israeli source says that there was an opening of fire on the road between the town of al-Ram and Jab'a northeast of the city of Jerusalem. And our correspondent in Jerusalem asserts that a settler was killed after shots struck his head, fired by unknown people near the settlement of Adam which was built on lands taken from the people of Jab'a;

Monday Morning Round-up Headlines, 7 a.m. / 8 a.m. / 9 a.m.

  • "In Sharm al-Sheikh today, President Yasser Arafat will meet Egyptian President Husni Mubarak, and the discussion will concentrate on the most recent development and on the marathon talks in Taba;
  • President Arafat in front of the World Economic Forum in Davos says that the Taba talks were a serious session, but in his speech he added that Israel is prosecuting a savage and evil war and brutal and criminal military aggression against our people, employing weapons with depleted uranium;
  • President Arafat estimates that Israeli policy is the most repulsive in the modern era, and he called on the world community to use its moral and human (Note: that's what it said) authority to get a serious and just solution to the Palestinian question;
  • "Israeli Occupation forces shell the Mintar area in eastern Gaza with artillery and automatic fire, and various Israeli attacks throughout the homeland leads to 27 injured, including a child in critical condition;
  • His excellency President Yasser Arafat asserts that the Palestinian leadership is continuing its efforts for a just, permanent and comprehensive peace in the area;
  • His excellency (Arafat), in a speech before the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, sets forth the details of Israeli aggression prosecuted against our people including acts of destruction, economic closures. And he called on the international community for an international force to put an end to this aggression, to remove the economic closures and lock-downs;
  • His excellency President Yasser Arafat will meet Egyptian President Husni Mubarak in Sharm al-Sheikh today.;
  • The secretary-general of Hizb-Allah (Party of God), Sheikh Hussein Nasser-Allah reiterated his organization's obligation to free all the Lebanese, Palestinian, Arab and Iranian prisoners in Israeli Occupation jails;
  • The martyring of four Iraqi children yesterday from bombs dropped as part of crimes being committed in southern Iraq in '91 war (note: item is unclear, suggesting perhaps the aggression
  • The extremist Jewish terrorist group Ateret Cohanim is setting forth to take over a residence and a store in the Old City in Jerusalem tonight;
  • The leader of the extremist Likud Party, Ariel Sharon, is initiating an attempt to win over the support of our people inside the Green Line, calling for what he calls a working partnership between Arabs and Jews inside Israel;
  • The lead (in the polls) for the election of February 6 of the candidate of the Right has increased over the labor party candidate and resigning prime minister Ehud Barak following the Taba conference. In that regard, resigning Prime Minister Ehud Barak ruled out participating in a combined government led by his rival, Ariel Sharon, should he (Sharon) win the February 6 elections for the post of prime minister;
  • Egypt,Jordan, Syria and Lebanon agree on a deal to produce and transfer natural gas for revenues of one billion dollars; NOTE: Israel just signed its own natural gas deal with Egypt, and this item has yet to be reported in Israel)
  • India sends an appeal to sponsoring countries for a billion and half dollars for dealing with shortages."

Quote of the Day from Interview with Nabil 'Amr, PA Parliamentary Affairs Minister (7:15 a.m.)

Question: "Ehud Barak suspended contacts with the national authority because of what he considered an attack on Israel in President Arafat's speech. Was it an attack?"

Answer: "No, Mr. Ehud Barak has gotten to a stage which he cannot go in one direction, where he cannot maintain one policy for the region. He supposes that what happened in Taba was a stoppage of negotiations as if it were a final agreement between the Palestinians and Israel. And he expects the Palestinians to greet Israelis with fulsome thanks for staying in their areas (i.e. neighborhoods, towns, villages, etc) for the presence of their tanks etc. But it (Arafat's speech) was the framing of a position, and what President Arafat stated in his speech is no more than what the world sees on the ground.

International delegations that have visited us have seen it for themselves, and themselves been subjected to bullets from the Israeli army. Therefore I think that the decision by Mr. Ehud Barak is a kind of foiling (thwarting or frustration) that flows from lack of ability (or power) to hold a position to carry out an agreement, from not succeeding at getting an agreement. Now he is experimenting with a media campaign."

Return to Contents

Document: President Arafat Addresses the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland

Document: President Arafat addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos January, 28 2001

[IMRA: Arafat made this speech less than 24 hours after Israeli FM Ben Ami declared at a press conference at Taba that "peace in our time" was just a matter of weeks away. While Minister Shimon Peres, who shared the stage with Arafat at Davos, declined to defend Israel at the meeting, Prime Minister Ehud Barak reacted to Arafat's presentation by announcing that he would not meet with Arafat before the elections in Israel on February 6]


Researched and Located by IMRA

Hereby is the full text of the speech:

Mr. President

Ladies and Gentlemen, leaders and members of the participating delegations

Ladies and Gentlemen

Allow me first, Mr. President, to convey to you, a special greeting on convening this important economic forum. I would like to express to you, as well, our sincerest thanks and our deepest appreciation for your kind invitation to this gathering in this year. I highly appreciate the efforts you have undertaken in the planning for and the organization of bringing together this important number of experienced personalities and decision makers the world over.

For years, we have participated in your Forum. We are doing it today, because we believe that the Davos Forum is important and because it contributes to comprehensive economic and social development on the regional and international levels. It is a forum where the horizons of positive and constructive cooperation as well as, the interaction among the economies of the various countries take place. This happens through developing economic and trade relations based on participation, exchange of experiences and mutual benefit to the best of the common interests of the countries and institutions participating in this Forum. This is done in a way that creates a positive economic atmosphere among states, delegations and institutions. This in turn, fosters the already existing economic and trade relations and founds for new horizons of economic and trade cooperation and exchange, and contributes, in a valuable manner, to the development and growth of the world economy as a whole. It leaves good repercussions on the levels of income for individuals and societies.

When we talk about economics, there is no way but to talk about politics because of its great influence on economics. The relationship between the two is a dialectical one. The influence of the political situation on the life and economy of any nation, people or country is a huge one - indeed it is quintessential and decisive.

You know, ladies and gentlemen, how many tiring efforts we have undertaken, to raise our Palestinian economy that was handed over to us totally destroyed by the Israeli occupation. There were no institutions and no infrastructures. The whole economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territory poured into the Israeli treasury. There was no existence of any projects or institutions for the development of the Palestinian economy and society. Israel was set on exploiting all of our economic and natural resources in the interest of the economy of its occupation. This left negative repercussions and destructive consequences on our economy.

Over seven years of hard and continues labor, we worked to create an economic environment conducive to investment, development and growth.We made big efforts to establish our institutions and the necessary infrastructures. From here, I would like to thank all our brothers and friends, for the help they have extended to the Palestinian people. It is a help that assisted us in making the projects of economic development and growth succeed, despite what we faced in terms of obstacles, impediments and difficulties, which Israel had, and still does, put in the face of our developing economy.

Israel has delayed the operational functioning of the airport. It has not allowed us to start building the seaport. As you know, these two, the airport and the seaport, are important and vital institutions. In addition, Israel has obstructed other projects, important to our economy and to our people e.g. the electricity and water and other projects. The Government of Barak, as well as the preceding Government of Netanyahu, practiced the policy of economic strangulations, closures and siege, as well as starvation and collective punishment against our Palestinian people.

The current Government of Israel is waging, for the last four months, a savage and barbaric war, as well as, a blatant and fascist military aggression against our Palestinian people. In this aggression it is using internationally prohibited weapons and ammunitions that include in their construction depleted uranium. In addition, Israel is laying against us total siege, indeed, worse than that, it is imposing this siege against every village and town. It is prohibiting the freedom of movement and travel of our people. It is jeopardizing the basic human rights of our Palestinian citizens, dismissing our workers, closing our factories, destroying a number of these, so much so that 90% of our workers are forcibly unemployed, destroying our farms and fruit trees and prohibiting export and import, indeed it is forbidding us to receive, from brothers and friends, donated provisions. All this is in violation of all resolutions of international legality, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Human Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention relating to the Protection of Civilians in Times of War.

Have you seen a more ugly policy than this policy of collective punishment or more destruction in the contemporary age? Israel is putting all of our people in confrontation with this dangerous military escalation, and its occupational, settlement, aggressive and armed expansionism as well as in confrontation with its dreams of achieving territorial and regional gains at the expense of our people, in a manner, which is in contravention of international legality and the rights of our Palestinian people to their land, Christian and Islamic holy places and to their natural resources.

Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen, leaders and members of the delegations,

Whoever wants really to achieve peace and seeks it with belief and sincerity, does not resort to killing, persecution, assassination, destruction and devastation as the Government of Israel and its army of occupation are doing to our people these days and since four continuous months. The number of Palestinian martyrs has exceeded the four hundred. The number of injured persons has exceeded seventeen thousand, of whom 5439 are children. These are the human losses and damages. The grand total, so far, of the economic and financial losses in all sectors, as a result of destruction caused by the Israeli occupational military machine, to the infrastructures and to public and private property and other losses is US $ billion 2,4 including the heavy losses inflicted on the Palestinian farmers as a result of cutting more than one hundred thousand trees and leveling of 10,000 dunams of land (1 dunam = 1000 m2). This, of course, leaves destructive consequences on the livelihood of the Palestinian citizens and the Palestinian investment. Added to these losses should be those caused by the Israeli shells, from tanks, artillery, planes and rockets, to the buildings, establishments, installations and institutions, such as schools, colleges, churches and mosques.

This is a very short resume? of what has befallen our society in terms of dire human and material losses and as a result of the situation of total siege and closure. As a result, the percentage of those who are living under the lineof poverty has risen to 75% and general national income has decreased sharply in millions of US dollars annually.

While we confirm to you, dear friends once more, our adherence to a comprehensive, just and permanent peace, the peace of the brave, as a firm strategic choice of our Palestinian people, we look up to you, and to the United Nations and to all justice-, freedom-, peace- and democracy - loving forces the world over, and to all brothers and friends, to approach the vital and influential international forces in the world, so as to bear their moral and human responsibilities in order to work in sincerity, objectivity, neutrality and fairness, to find a quick and just solution to the Issue of Palestine, in accordance with the spirit of right and justice and the international resolutions related to Palestine.

You know, ladies and gentlemen, that we have made great concessions and sacrifices in order to achieve comprehensive, just and permanent peace. Yes, indeed, we have accepted less than one quarter of the total area of historic Palestine. We accepted, at the Madrid Peace Conference, the principle of land for peace on the basis of [UN] Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 which call for the withdrawal of Israel, the occupying power, from all Arab and Palestinian occupied territories, including Holy Jerusalem, to the fourth of June border lines; the dismantling of every thing the occupation has built in terms of settlements and settlement structures that have no basis of legality; and the implementation of [UN General Assembly] Resolution 194 on the Palestinian refugees. We have achieved, as well, peace agreements with my late partner Yitzhak Rabin, in making the peace of the brave, which guarantees us the establishment of our independent Palestinian state, with holy Jerusalem as its capital.

We look forward to the whole international community, the United Nations Organization and the vital and influential international forces, to work for ending this Israeli war and aggression against our unarmed people; a war and an aggression which constitute a flagrant and blatant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relating to the Protection of Civilians in Times of War. We ask for the provision of international protection for our people immediately, the lifting of the siege and closure and the ending of this escalating military aggression.

Our Palestinian people, ladies and gentlemen, look up to you to help them in realizing their inalienable legitimate national rights so as to be able to march forward on the road of development and construction of their homeland, to catch up with the developed and advanced course of international economy, and to live with dignity, freedom, sovereignty and independence in their homeland, Palestine, like all other peoples and states in the region and the world, in a framework of confidence, mutual respect and good neighborliness with their surroundings.

Finally, we reiterate our thanks to you, Mr. President, for inviting us, and for giving us the opportunity to address this august Forum. We wish you success and good luck in realizing the noble aims of this meeting. We express our sincere hope and firm desire to have the honor to invite you all on a very close day, God be willing, to convene your Forum in Holy Jerusalem, the capital of the independent State of Palestine.

Peace be with you all

Return to Contents

PNA Official Editorial after the Taba Talks

[IMRA note: This editorial, appearing on the official website of the Palestinian National Authority, provides important insight. While the editorial notes that the PA opposed the murder of Israeli civilians from Tel Aviv during the Taba talks, it declinea to say anything about the murder of an Israeli civilian from Jerusalem who was murdered within the Jerusalem municipal area.]

28 January 2001

Trying Once Again


Researched and Located by IMRA

After four months of a vain and criminal attempt to force an unjust solution upon the Palestinian leadership by waging war against its people, and on the eve of elections where the chances of the outgoing Israeli Prime minister to regain power look very dim to all observers, the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have come out of Taba with an as yet undefined form of agreement.

It is indeed not a treaty, nor a full-fledged agreement; it is not a framework agreement, nor a declaration of principles, even though it looks more or less like one; it is not a new interim agreement, nor is it a final status accord. It embodies general guidelines for further negotiations, if and whenever they resume, and bears witness to the achievements of the negotiators until now, while delineating the remaining gaps between the parties about the core issues of the conflict. For it is not only time that is lacking to achieve a full agreement. The fragile legitimacy of an Israeli government whose days are so tightly numbered and the imminent prime ministerial elections have also weighed heavily on the chances of success. But, and in spite of significant advances on several issues, we are still facing the evergoing attempt, on the part of the Israeli government, to depart from the referential character of International Law and move into the realm of subjective needs backed by the military imbalance of power.

Vague formulations do not always mean "constructive ambiguity". Some ambiguities, have we have learnt from more than seven years of unimplemented agreements, can be quite destructive. The will to pursue negotiations, however, is a positive sign, and the narrowing of the gap inherited from the Camp David talks of last summer shows that progress is possible.

There is, however, no certainty that this will be enough for Israeli voters to give the Taba negotiators a new mandate, and the whole exercise may very well move abruptly from the sphere of live diplomacy to that of past history, if a confused and de-stabilized electorate decides to lend an ear to the sirens of war.

The Palestinian leadership, which is committed to peace as a basic strategic option, will of course negotiate with whatever Israeli government is elected, as it has done in the past, particularly in Wye River. But Palestinians hear the electoral discourse, the speeches and the debate in Israel, and cannot be detached, neutral or uninterested in the outcome, which may shape the coming months, and maybe years, and determine whether we can preserve the hope of moving towards a just possible peace, with all the difficulties and hardship on the way or whether we are heading towards another chapter of bloodshed and suffering. For let there be no misunderstanding: the Palestinian popular upheaval provoked by Barak's misguided belief in the virtue of force will not stop if Sharon comes, and it will only escalate if he tries to carry out the military threats he aired during his election campaign.

One of the surprising features of the last Taba talks, however, has been the low profile of the new US administration. Hardly an impetus. No mediator, no moderator. While an official spokesman clarified that it was not involved in the promotion of former US President Clinton's proposals, the validity of which had vanished with the formal end of his mandate, it was clear that the new residents of the White House had decided to wait and see the results of next week's elections before moving. But it was also clear that the style of Presidential involvement was undergoing a drastic change. And given that Clinton's proposals are no longer on the table, now that their alleged author is out of the White House, it is legitimate to wonder what is it, then, that kept both sides running, at such a late hour?

For the Israeli side, there has certainly been a will to appear, both in front of the Israeli "left" and the Arab electorate of Israel, as well as at the eyes of Western countries, as peace-searchers and peace-lovers. The hope to achieve some agreement of principle that could transform the imminent Israeli elections into a referendum for Peace. The will to create conditions allowing for a significant decrease in the quantity and intensity of violent clashes.

For the PLO and the PNA, the attempt to reach some form of common stand, even in vague terms, reflects the need to prevent a total regression of the negotiating process into an open-ended process of renegotiations of all the principles affirmed in the Interim agreements. It is also an attempt to draft the agreed upon bases on which all future negotiations will start again, once the sound and fury of Sharon's military threat fall back.

It is in this context that Palestinian media and personalities have recently engaged in retrospective assessments of the Clinton years in regards to the Middle-East conflict, and it has now become fashionable to blame Clinton for the failure of the Peace-Process, the so-called "failure of Oslo", which is in fact the failure to implement the "Oslo" and subsequent interim agreements. This simplified version of events does not only injustice to the former President's personal involvement and dedication, which went all the way to intensive group therapy, Wye-River or Camp David style, sleepless nights and relentless harassment of the parties. It also overlooks some of the unfortunate, but constant parameters of US policy. After all, the US "peace team" Dennis Ross and Co., was an inheritance of the old Bush-Baker administration. Let us also not forget that it is the Republican majority in Congress which passed the infamous resolution to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and the Clinton administration which set up the postponing mechanism today utilized by the new administration.

True enough, Clinton was not capable to raise over the climate of overbidding which always characterizes US elections, and in the aftermath of the Camp David talks of last summer, did not hesitate to violate his own commitments and lay the blame squarely on the PLO for the failure to reach an agreement, and this support to Barak probably encouraged him in his military miscalculations.

True enough, there must have been some measure of cultural short-sightedness in Clinton's failure to grasp the Arabic and Islamic connection to Jerusalem in general and to the Haram El Sharif in particular, and in his naive belief, constructed by his ill-advised advisors, that once cornered between himself and the Israeli Prime minister, Yasser Arafat could not but accept whatever flawed deal he would be offered. No doubt that this biased perception did a lot to encourage Barak and his staff to engage in the test of force and coercion which started with Sharon's provocation on September 28th, lighting the fuse of the current confrontation.

But this in no way sums up Clinton's performance over the eight years of his legislature. He is, after all, the one who established the status of the PLO in US and world politics, and he is, above all, the one who introduced the Palestinian State in American official discourse. Many of us still vividly remember his appearance in Gaza, before Palestinian legislators, and the strengths and conviction of his empathy with Palestinian national aspirations. For all this, we are grateful and admirative, even though it is obvious that all these efforts were ultimately not crowned by success.

Behind those misperceptions, there are gross distortions and myths as to the nature of Israeli-US relations.

One consists in believing that US policy is decided in Tel-Aviv (as though it was the tail that waved the dog) while the other consists in imagining that the White House has an unlimited power to tell Israel what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Reality, of course, is as usual more complex. Not that one should underestimate the effective weight of the "lobby" in the shaping of US Middle-East policies, or of the prevalent climate in US mass-media. But one must also face the fact that the "lobby" concept has for a long time functioned as an alibi, convenient in US-Arab relations, masking imperial designs and cultural prejudice.

This prejudice undoubtedly feeds on various Old Testament theologies, which still produce "Christian Zionists", in the same way as the Dutch Reform Church had once given theological backing to apartheid in South Africa, and it underlies the bizarre alliance of the Protestant fundamentalists of the so-called "moral majority" and the Zionist Ultra-Right. It is also probably grounded on the pattern of settlement colonization which has presided over the historical formation of the USA, and makes the Zionist state a mere re-enactment of the American model, with our Palestinian Arab people in the role of the indigenous Americans. We should therefore understand that we have a problem, as the whole world has, with American society at large, instead of transforming this or that President, or this or that administration into a scapegoat for our inability to transform their attitude.

In the meantime, however, escalation continues on the ground. In spite of its semi-spontaneous and sometimes disorganized character, Palestinian armed struggle, a sporadic harassment of settlers and occupation forces, imposes a state of siege upon the Israeli war machinery. Thus have Israeli military and legal experts been busy, in the course of the last week, redefining the conflict: low intensity conflict, armed conflict, or outright war. The importance of those categories does not lie in their descriptive accuracy, but in their legal implications.

In this context, and without forgetting for a second the suffering of the Palestinian victims of Israeli state-terrorism, the PNA and Fateh leadership have condemned the killing of Israeli civilians in Tulkarem, by a group of militants who organized themselves as a vengeance unit. Killing of civilians on the basis of their sole ethnic identity is both a political mistake and a war crime. Terror cannot be the response to terror. Not only are we not formally at war, but even if we were, or if we considered that we are, we would still be bound to respect the laws of war, and in particular the IVth Geneva convention (1949) on the protection of civilians in times of war.

The dangerous and slippery descent into community ethnic-confessional strife, with its popular passion for vendetta and retaliation, which has characterized the ever self-reproducing conflict pattern, indeed tends to blur the distinction between military and civilian, between the fanatic, trigger-happy terrorist settlers and ordinary Israeli civilians within the Green Line. This amalgam serves the attempt to portray the conflict as a struggle for Israel's very existence, which is not threatened in any way by the war of liberation in which our Palestinian people is engaged in order to achieve its internationally recognized fundamental national and human rights.

If the coming weeks were to witness a predictable collapse of the negotiating process, there would once again be no alternative to the dramatic escalation of colonization, repression and aggression but the intervention of the international community. There must be zero tolerance for Israeli state-terrorism against a civilian population taken hostage, and failure to take action will only convince more Palestinians that they are alone, and can only engage in desperate tactics. It may still not be too late to avoid a new catastrophy in our area, but time is definitely running.

Return to Contents

Go to the Israel Resource Review homepage

The Israel Resource Review is brought to you by the Israel Resource, a media firm based at the Bet Agron Press Center in Jerusalem, and the Gaza Media Center under the juristdiction of the Palestine Authority.
You can contact us on