P.L.O. Media Joyous After Terror Attack in Jerusalem:
In the aftermath of the bombs that blew up in Jerusalem's Machane Yehudah open air market today in Jerusalem, our news agency, which covers the peace process and the fledgling Palestine Authority, listened intently to the official Palestine Authority radio news network in the four hours that followed the blasts. PBC radio news, the official voice of the Palestine Authority, which operates out of Yassir Arafat's office in Gaza, reported the news of the bombs...as a "military operation", even though the bombs had killed or wounded one hundred and fifty shoppers and shopkeepers - Jews and Arabs, old and young alike, in the one place that you are bound to find every kind of person in Jerusalem.
On each newscast that followed the attack, PBC radio repeated the theme - an "operation" has been carried out, not a terror attack. And Arafat, who had been quoted widely on the Israeli and foreign newsreels that he had condemned the attack, would not allow himself to be quoted in Arabic as condemning the "operation". Meeting the Arab media in Jericho, as he descended from his helicopter, Arafat was tightlipped, saying nothing to his people that would discourage anything but praise for the attack. Meanwhile, PBC played victory music, military marches, and joyous music. And then PBC TV came on the air, televising a play which showed Arabs shooting at Israelis. No subliminal message there.
Our agency has monitored the Arabic language PBC radio and TV for since their inception at the genesis of the Oslo peace process four years ago.
The PBC, funded under grants from the US AID foreign assistance program, has conveyed a consistent message: The war with Israel must proceed, and all means to that end remain justified. At one point, in September 1995, I was asked to bring PBC videos of Arafat's televised speeches for a special showing at the US House International Relations Committee. Congresspeople were surprised to learn that Arafat had yet to make a single statement in Arabic at any time that called for peace with Israel and that clearly condemned terror attacks.
Last November, I had the opportunity to have a personal session with Yassir Arafat in Bethlehem. Arafat was in in a pleasant mood, as he spoke of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Arafat went out of his way during our talk to attack those who would conduct terror activity, calling them enemies of peace. Yet one month before meeting Arafat, our Palestinian TV crew had filmed Arafat at a Bethlehem area Arab refugee camp, when he called for "Jihad" - holy war - and the continuation of the armed struggle against Israel. So I asked Arafat when he would repeat the calls for peace in Arabic to his own people that he so eloquently says in English. Arafat responded by saying that he "always" speaks of peace in Arabic. Many Israelis are waiting for such proclamations of peace in Arabic from the lips of Arafat, let alone condemnation of terror bombs in a crowded marketplace.
Has the PA Failed to Fulfill Its Commitments Under
the Hebron Accord?
The Israel Government Press Office released a comprehensive 35-page report assessing Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the Hebron Accord. The report is being issued to mark six months since the signing and implementation of the agreement in January 1997. Copies of the report are available at the Government Press Office, tel: (02) 623-3385, or on the internet site of the Prime Minister's Office (www.pmo.gov.il) in the policy papers/fact sheet section.
Israeli Compliance: The report notes that since the signing of the Hebron Accord, Israel has fulfilled all of its commitments. Israeli forces redeployed in Hebron. Israel approved the first stage of the further redeployment from the West Bank, released Palestinian women prisoners, resumed negotiations with the PA on outstanding Interim Agreement issues and offered to resume final status talks.
Palestinian Security Violations: According to the report, the PA has violated the fundamental security provisions of the Hebron accord. Rather than contain disturbances, the Palestinian police organized riots in Hebron in March-April 1997 and June-July 1997 and failed to contain Palestinians who surged towards the Jewish Quarter. In many cases, the PA paid youths 30 to 50 shekels per day for taking part in riots and attacking Israeli soldiers. The PA has deployed 1,500 policemen in Hebron, which is nearly four times the 400 allowed, and it has armed them with weapons forbidden by the agreement.
Palestinian Violations of the Note for Record: The report notes that the PA has failed to fulfill any of its 4 obligations contained in the Note for the Record: amending the Covenant, combating terror, reducing the size of its police force and restricting its governmental activity to areas under its control.
1. Failure to Change the PLO Covenant - The Palestinians have not taken any steps toward completing the amendment process. To date, no new version of the Covenant has yet been submitted to the Palestinian National Council.
2. Failure to Fight Terror and Prevent Violence - One of the PA's gravest violations of the Note for the Record has been its failure to combat terror, an obligation which the Note breaks down into six specific measures required of the PA:
2a. Strengthening Security Cooperation - The PA broke off security cooperation with Israel earlier this year, despite warnings of impending terrorist activity. Palestinian security officials refused to meet their Israeli counterparts and refrained from exchanging intelligence information. Recently, security cooperation has improved slightly, but the PA has thus far refused to restore the level that existed previously.
2b. Incitement to Violence Against Israel - Senior PA officials have repeatedly engaged in incitement to violence against Israel. They have praised Hamas and the intifada, threatened Israel with war, and accused Israel of injecting Palestinians with the AIDS virus and poisoning Palestinian food products. More than 30 such statements made by senior PA officials are documented in the report.
2c. Combat Systematically and Effectively Terrorist Organizations and Infrastructure - The PA has taken no steps to outlaw terror groups, whose infrastructure remains intact. At a secret meeting held in Gaza on the night of March 9, 1997, Arafat met with the heads of Hamas, the DFLP and the PFLP, who left the meeting with the understanding to renew terror against Israel. Eleven days later, 3 Israelis died in a Hamas bombing in Tel Aviv on March 21, 1997.
In mid-July 1997 it became clear that the Palestinian police have been actively involved in terror. Israeli intelligence has confirmed that Asst.-Cmdr. Jihad Masimi of the PA police in Nablus has ordered attacks, that there are several terror cells in the Palestinian police, and that there are strong indications that Palestinian Police Chief Ghazi Jabali is involved.
2d. Apprehension, Prosecution and Punishment of Terrorists - Terrorists have not been tried by the PA for terror activity against Israel in the past 6 months. The PA has drafted numerous terrorists to serve in the ranks of its security services, including at least 23 wanted for the murder of Israelis. The PA Police Commander has acknowledged that more than 150 members of Hamas and the PFLP are currently working in key positions in the Palestinian police. Since the signing of the Hebron Accord, the PA has released dozens of terrorists from detention, including: Muhammad Khawaja, a senior Islamic Jihad leader who planned the January 1995 Beit Lid bombing; Nabil Sharihi, a member of Islamic Jihad who helped prepare the bomb used in the April 1995 Kfar Darom attack in which 7 Israelis and 1 American were killed; Imjad Hinawi - a Hamas member who took part in the murder of 17-year old David Boim in Beit El in May 1996.
2e. Transfer of Terror Suspects to Israel - On March 31, 1997, Israel submitted 31 requests to the PA for the transfer of terror suspects. Thus far, the PA has failed to hand over any of the suspects to Israel. Of the 31 terror suspects whose transfer is being sought by Israel, 11 are either serving in the Palestinian police or are in the process of joining its ranks. Among those being sought are: Ibrahim Alkam, Abdel Nasser Alkaisi and Ibrahim Hani, wanted for the murder of Etta Tzur and her 12-year old son Ephraim on December 11, 1996; Bassam Issa - behind the terror attack in Jerusalem on October 9, 1994 in which two people were killed; and Hisham Salim Dib, who was behind the March 4, 1996 Dizengoff suicide bombing which killed 13 people.
2f. Confiscation of illegal firearms - No public campaigns or major sweeps have been undertaken by the PA to confiscate illegal weapons. As a result, virtually none of the tens of thousands of weapons circulating in the autonomous areas have been collected by the PA in the past six months. Five illegally armed groups continue to operate in the PA areas: