Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas asserted that he and the Palestinian leadership would not accept anything less than a total return to the frontiers of June 4, 1967, the Palestinian media reported Wednesday.

“We will not accept less than the borders of 1967,” he asserted in a headlined quote in Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, one of two newspapers controlled by Abbas’s own Fatah Party. Voice of Palestine radio and PBC television offered similar quotations.

“The first stone (building) the settlements was illegal, and the last stone is illegal,” declared PA-PLO chairman Abbas, explaining that Israel’s agreements with the Palestinians required total withdrawal and dismantling of all settlements, but Israel was trying to expand its settlements.

The official Palestinian media made it clear that Abbas was taking a firm line on interim Israeli actions as well.

“His excellency the president (Abbas) stressed that he holds Israel responsible for not carrying out the Sharm al-Sheikh agreement that calls for the withdrawal from [all Palestinian] the cities, release of [all] the prisoners and return of all those expelled.” (V.O.P. 7, 8 a.m. May 4, 2005)

Israel has so far refused to release all convicted Palestinians from jails, and it is refusing to allow those suspected of terror from returning from abroad.

“To put it bluntly,” said Abbas in a meeting in Gaza covered by PBC television, “I will not be satisfied until the entire homeland is strolled by all Palestinians.”

In the lead-up to the May 15 anniversary of what the Palestinians call “Al-Nakba,” “the Catastopher” in Arabic [the establishment of Israel], official radio and television shows have included many reports stressing that the PA leadership is still committed to “right of return of all Palestinians to their homes.”

Elsewhere, the Palestinian media continued to underscore the PA’s support of a Russian-organized peace conference on the Mid-East in Moscow.

Palestinian television led its morning news with items on meetings of Abbas (with US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and Jewish businessman Danny Abraham) in which Dr. Abbas again stressed the “historical importance” of the trip last week of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Palestinian territory.

For the last few days there has also been a growing pre-occupation with the local Palestinian elections Thursday as well as upcoming national legislative elections scheduled for July, and PA leader Abbas was allowed a great deal of broadcast time on both PA radio and television to encourage Fatah electioneering, although there was not supposed to be any campaigning the day before elections.

Abbas congratulated the Fatah candidates at Al-Quds University for gaining what V.O.P. radio called “a great victory” over HAMAS and Islamic Jihad: 26 of 51seats.

A cartoon in the daily newspaper Al-Quds (INTERNET EDITION) touched on an increasingly tough battle for control of Palestinian foreign policy. The cartoon depicted a tug-of-war between the pro-Syrian Farouk Qaddoumi, who opposed the PLO-Israeli treaties, and PA Foreign Minister Nasser Al-Qudwa, Yasser Arafat’s nephew.

Qaddoumi has for many years been the PLO “foreign minister” while Al-Qudwa was PA-PLO Ambassador to the United Nations.

A cartoon in yesterday’s print edition of Al-Quds attacked the United States for pressing the Arabs politically and economically. The cartoon (called “Islaah” Arabic or “Straigtening Out” shows the US using an electric iron. (See http://pdf.alquds.com/2005/5/3/page32.pdf.)

Official Palestinian television reported on its Hebrew broadcast last night that the PA had prevented the firing of a Qassam missile at Israel. The report, which was apparently not repeated in any Arabic language report on television or radio, showed the equipment of the Qassam launchers: two captured handguns, five mobile phones and a broken chair.

Later reports from Western news services and from Israel indicated that one Qassam actually landed in Israel and that the PA released those responsible.

Dr. Michael Widlanski is a specialist in Arab politics and communication whose doctorate dealt with the Palestinian broadcast media. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times,The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post.

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