Palestinian Prime Minister
Threatens Israel Over "Threats" to Al Aqsa
The Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmad Qreia warned Wednesday that continuing Israeli threats to Islamic holy places would lead to a regional conflagration.
Qreia's comments were addressed to the PA cabinet meeting, but they were widely covered in the PA's official media, overshadowing a softer message issued abroad by PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas calling for living alongside Israel after it met all Palestinian demands.
"Prime Minister Ahmad Qreia told the cabinet that continued Israeli threats to Al-Aqsa are going to lead to an explosion," official Palestinian television reported Wednesday afternoon.
The tough tone of Prime Minister Qreia (who is also known by his nickname Abu 'Ala) was sandwiched with several other firm messages to Israel, and one warning to HAMAS not to make verbal attacks on PA officials:
Fatah has been taken aback by its relatively narrow victory in local elections last week, and Abbas's PA has delayed publishing official results, hinting that it thinks there may have been fraud. But Hamas has retorted that the PA and Fatah controlled the elections and that they may be trying to juggle the results.
"The Interior Ministry strongly condemns the communiqué of the Hamas movement," V.O.P. radio announced.
Meanwhile, Palestinian newspapers such as Al-Quds followed the lead of the PA broadcast media in reporting Abbas's message, delivered at a Latino-Arab summit in Brazil, that he was ready for "a just peace" involving "living alongside Israel" after it had withdrawn from all territory conquered in 1967.
Dr. Abbas also criticized Israel for delaying the Gaza withdrawal for three weeks because of Jewish religious observances.
Abbas used the term ta'ayyush, meaning living in mutual respect, which has been relatively rarely used in the official Palestinian lexicon. This was the second time in two months that Abbas, making speeches abroad has delivered a message with a softer tone than generally used inside the Palestinian-controlled territories.
In his February meetings, with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain and Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, respectively, Abbas used softer language, once even criticizing "suicide operations" (Arabic: 'amaliyyat intikhariyya)-a term almost never heard in the lexicon of the regimes of Abbas or Yasser Arafat.
On the home front, Abbas has been keeping the issue of Palestinian prisoners in the forefront of public opinion, asserting that the PA is demanding the release of all Palestinian prisoners and convicted terrorists, beginning with a group of 400.
Israel has already released 500 of 900 convicts it promised to release, and several of them were then caught in renewed terror activity, according to Israel. This fact and other continued Palestinian rocket and attempted suicide bomb attacks have convinced the Israeli government to halt prisoner releases.
For Abbas, however, the prisoner question is a winning issue and a unifying factor that can help him in upcoming national elections, and it is not surprising to see PA television and Palestinian newspapers like Al-Quds devoting films and cartoons to the issue.
Al-Quds cartoon showing prisoner files in chains, symbolic of the issue of prisoner release that is important for PLO/PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Meanwhile, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda offers a two-pronged cartoon concerning the Sharon decision to delay the withdrawal from Gaza. The cartoon shows Sharon having a nightmare in which Hamas's late leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin appears and says with a smile: "Now give me one reason to delay the withdrawal." This is a heavy hint that Hamas may re-start human bomb attacks, which Hamas says are the real reason Israel is withdrawing from Gaza.
Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, May 11, 2005
Report compiled by Michael Widlanski Associates.