Israel Resource Review 31st January, 2001


Official PA radio news -
P.B.C. VOP (Voice of Palestine) Radio: January 30

Summary and Analysis

In its Tuesday morning news broadcasts, VOP opened with news of a new Palestinian martyr, while reiterating news of the killing last night of an "Israeli settler," and VOP summed up the number of Israelis fatalities in the "Independence Intifada": "49 Israelis dead, whether soldiers or settlers."

This summation was short, mean and brutish in style, while inaccurate in content. But it was very instructive in several ways.

It highlighted the dichotomy in Palestinian reporting of the four-month war of attrition:

  • When Palestinians die, whether armed or not, whether they have been in the middle of an attack or not, they are always classified as "shaheed" (singular: martyr) or "shuhadaa" (plural: martyrs);
  • When Israelis die, whether armed or not, whether civilian or military, whether male or female, whether child or adult, whether having lived in settlements or in Netanya or Tel Aviv, they are classified as "settlers."

The PA has moved away from offering measured praise to Israeli negotiators and is saying that Ehud Barak is only interested in his election campaign and in a "campaign" against the Palestinian Authority. But in its 2 P.M. afternoon broadcast (and in subsequent bulletins), VOP featured an interview with Yasser Abd-Rabbo asserting that the PA would welcome contacts between Arafat and Barak-whether in Europe or Egypt. On the other hand, it also featured during the evening hours the Arab League's statement from Tunis supporting a continued intifada in pursuit of Palestinian rights.

Throughout the day, VOP highlighted the analysis of Saeb Erikat, a PA negotiator, saying that the central sticking point in talks with Israel was the right of return. Erikat said the PA totally refused suggestions for substitutions or trade-offs for the right of return-such as compensation, which he said was offered by Dr. Yossi Beilin, the Israeli Justice Minister.

Elsewhere, the PA continues to highlight the Arab world's opening-up to Iraq (Infitah: the use of the same word Sadat employed when he "opened" to the West in the late 70's).

7 a.m. Morning Round-up Headlines

  • A martyr in Khan Yunis near the Tufah checkpoint, yesterday;
  • (Israeli) Occupation authorities continue policy of kidnapping Palestinian civilians, escalating their threats against the Palestinian National Authority;
  • The National authority denies charges that weapons are being transferred (into the PA) by way of the sea into Gaza;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat returns to the soil of the homeland after participating in the World Economic Forum in Davos and discussions yesterday in Sharm al-Sheikh with Egyptian President Husni Mubarak;
  • Continuation of Barak's media campaign yesterday against the Palestinian side.and Dr. Saeb Erikat will be with us to discuss this campaign.;
  • Voices in Israel attack Dr. Yossi Beilin in that he was a detriment and counseled concessions, and we will discuss Beilin's concessions with Dr. Saeb Erikat;
  • The American role in the Middle East region and the role in the peace process: what are the initiatives of the new Administration, what will be the American role, the future of Palestinian-American relations in the era of the Bush Administration, and with us will be the PLO representative in Washington Hassan 'Abd-al-Rahman;
  • Hundreds of million dollars in damage to tourism industry resulting from Israeli aggression and closures;
  • Sums being paid to (unemployed) workers, we'll hear about it from Works Minister Rafik al-Natsche
  • An important Syrian-Iraqi trade agreement;
  • Another important Iraqi-Egyptian agreement and soon between Jordan and Iraq as the Arab world opens up the door ("infitah") to Iraq."

Morning Headlines, 7 a.m. / 8 a.m. / 9 a.m.

  • "The youth Abdullah Abu-Shakr, 22 years old, was struck by bullets in the head and suffered critical wounds this morning in a confrontation in the Mintar crossing area in eastern Gaza;
  • And the martyring of the youth Muhammad Nafiz Abu-Moussa yesterday morning night in Khan Yunis after soldiers stopped in front of his house opened fire on him, striking him with 500-mm bullets in the stomach, two hundred meters from the occupation army checkpoint;
  • Israeli occupation authorities released four youths after kidnapping them in an act of piracy (Arabic: "qarsana") near the city of Gaza, and a fifth youth remains arrested (Note: this apparently refers to an Israeli arrest of a man believed to be the head of the anti-Israeli shooting campaign inside Gaza for several months);
  • Seven citizens wounded in various ways as Israeli occupation soldiers open fire in Bir Nidam, west of Ramallah;
  • A group of settlers occupies a building in al-Wad Street in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem last night;
  • The killing (maqtal) of an Israeli settler last night when fire opened up on him northeast of occupied Jerusalem between the towns of Jab'a and Hizma, according to an Israeli military source;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat returns to the homeland today from Egypt, after conducting talks in Sharm al-Sheikh with Egyptian president Husni Mubarak yesterday. And his excellency renewed the absolute Palestinian refusal for resettlement of the refugees especially in Lebanon, asserting at the World Economic Forum in Davos that there would not remain a single refugee on the soil of Lebanon;
  • President Mubarak said that peace in the region could NOT be achieved without the return of Palestinian sovereignty to the sacred Jerusalem shrine (Haram al-Qudsi al-Sharif) and Israel's affirmation (Arabic--Iqrar-also: acknowledgement, or granting) the return of the Palestinian refugees;
  • Chief of Staff of the Israeli Occupation Army Shaul Mofaz admits the opening of fire on the citizen Jad-Allah Jabari in Hebron this month and investigating the serious injuries to his leg (Note: Mofaz actually condemned the shooting and is apparently ordering a courts martial for all those involved in an incident in which Israeli soldiers not only fired when they should not have, but also deliberately refused to treat the wounded man for a long time, and also prevented photographers from filming the incident);
  • Iraqi Vice President Taher Yassin Ramadan executes an agreement in Damascus for a free-trade zone;
  • Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdel-Hilal al-Khatib in Washington today for talks with American Secretary of State Colin Powell;
  • The prince of Kuwait Sheikh Jaber Subah accepts the resignation of the Kuwaiti government."

Quote of the Day

"And as I said the main problem is firming up the right of return."
        Saeb Erikat, PA Home Rule Minister and frequent negotiator, on the main sticking point between the Palestinians and Israel, morning interview, Tuesday, 7:30 a.m., Morning News Round-up.

Quotes from Interview with Saeb Erikat, Home Rule Minister and PA negotiator, 7:20 a.m.

Erikat was asked off-mike about Barak's decision to suspend talks and not to come to Davos to meet Arafat.

"We had an agreement with them (the Israelis)-that the talks would be halted for the elections. And we spoke that after a week or two weeks there would be (continuation of) talks. So I do NOT understand this talk (of Barak's) about policy. This is what we agreed. We had no programs for meeting until after the elections."

Question: "What about security meetings? Is there a difficulty?"

Answer: "We will meet, do what is necessary, the various committees. Our positions are clear on the matters of closures and lock-downs (unclear word) against the Palestinian people."

Question: "Let's return to the Israeli attack on the Palestinian side after the speech delivered by his excellency President Yasser Arafat. What is the nature of the crisis following the marathon talks?"

Answer: "Firstly, I believe that the speech of President Arafat was a comprehensive speech, a clear speech to the international community about the real problems faced by the Palestinian people on the ground, in the way of siege, lock-down and aggression. And at the same time President Arafat asserted-and more than once in his speech-the continuation of the peace process. Our obligation to the peace process, continuing to a complete and comprehensive peace agreement.

Yet at the same time, President Arafat clarified that there can be NO peace without the basis of the execution of resolutions 242, 338 and 194 and the complete Israeli withdrawal to the June 4 1967 borders, including holy Jerusalem, and a solution to the refugee problem linked to resolution 194. And as I said the main problem is firming up the right of return."

Question: "The Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv said that Dr. Yossi Beilin succeeding in sketching-out a solution to the matter of the refugees without mentioning the right of return?"

Answer: "That's completely false. That's absolutely false. There was a discussion in the refugee committee between brother Nabil Sha'ath (PA negotiator and development minister) and Yossi Beilin, but at the end of the discussion it was completely clear and deep concerning our permanent and continuing demand for the firming up of the right of r-e-t-u-r-n without substitutions, without replacements. There have been attempts to talk for a long time about substitutions..We are talking about the right of r-e-t-u-r-n" (Note: Erikat said the words "right of return" very slowly spacing them out twice for emphasis).

Tuesday Evening Preview/Bulletin

VOP made no mention of Palestinian artillery shelling of Netzarim settlement, but said fighting was taking place.

In somewhat incongruous paring of headlines at 9 p.m., VOP said the PA was willing to go to a new Palestinian-Israeli summit, while highlighting Arab League statement in support of "continuing intifada and resistance of Israeli occupation."

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Special Edition - Voice of Palestine Radio prepares for Barak-Arafat summit

Summary and Analysis

VOP and the Palestinian Authority dramatically changed their approach to Ehud Barak within the last 18 hours in the following ways:

  • Switching from attention to a growing rift between Yasser Arafat and Barak, following Arafat's Davos speech condemning Israel, to downplaying the Arafat-Barak differences;
  • Highlighting the "extreme" nature of Ariel Sharon and some of his backers such as the "extreme" Avigdor Lieberman [Note: some of the Israeli Labor Party's campaign advertisements on January 29/30 were almost identical to some of these and earlier texts on VOP)
  • Announcing the likelihood of a Barak-Arafat summit, after talking about no contacts until after the elections, and, also, after talking, until Tuesday afternoon, about Barak's media "campaign" against the PA.

    In Short, both VOP and the PA now seem to be joining the campaign against Ariel Sharon, even though an 8:18 a.m. studio-read VOP analysis Wednesday morning laid out the near certainty of a Barak loss to Sharon.

    The PA analysis was sophisticated and unemotional, stressing the following points:

    • Sharon's election is imminent, but he will not be able to form a broad government;
    • Sharon's narrow parliamentary base -- only 19 Likud seats out of 120 -- will make serious negotiations with the PA very unlikely;
    • The likelihood that israel Will again go to elections within six months, thus signaling a period of deep instability in Israel.

    In a morning interview, PA Information Minister Yasser Abd-Rabbo denied categorically a report in the Israeli daily Ma'ariv that the PA and Israel had agreed to put of discussions on Jerusalem for five years.

    Elsewhere, VOP continued to shepherd the Iraqi normalization process, featuring a long studio-read analysis by senior announcer Khaled Sukar detailing Iraq's return to the fold, i.e. the Arab world's renewed embrace of Saddam Hussein.

    Morning Round-up Headlines

    • "Efforts by UN Secretary General Kofi Anan and European officials pushing hard for a continuing Palestinian-Israeli summit, but a site and a time for the summit are not yet decided;
    • It is likely to be in a European capital, but time pressure is a problem;
    • The extremist and rightist Likud candidate for the prime ministry Ariel Sharon is vainly contriving to (reconstruct) his past vis a vis the Palestinian Leadership and to convince by putting on new clothes (to distract from) the ugly truth;
    • Supporters of Sharon tell the e-mail edition of Yediot Aharonot that there is NO danger of acceptance of the plans of the extremist Avigdor Lieberman who threatened striking against the Aswan High Dam in Egypt and at Teheran;
    • The Israeli government refuses to meet the Palestinian side about transferring sums to the Palestinian side and regarding the financial difficulties of the (Palestinian) National Authority, and Muhammd Zuhdi Nashashibi (PA finance official) condemns this Israeli step."

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