Monday, April 23, 2018

Official PA radio news – the P.B.C. VOP (Voice of Palestine) Radio: January 11th

Summary and Analysis

The Voice of Palestine denied Israeli reports of progress in security talks held Wednesday night, and it reported extensively on Palestinian diplomatic efforts and public demonstrations to have Israeli leaders and officers “tried as war criminals.”

VOP specifically denied reports that Israel had agreed to allow a free flow of workers and goods by the end of the week. The VOP report said the Palestinian side-represented by negotiator and PA Home Rule Minister Saeb Erikat-demanded that Israel end its hostilities against the Palestinian people as well as withdrawing forces. VOP made no mention of Israel’s security demands, nor did it mention any Palestinian concessions.

Various Palestinian sources denied that there had been any overtures by the PA to Canada or vice versa regarding the settlement of Palestinian refugees in Canada.

In its morning news shows as well as its afternoon news panorama show, VOP said Israel had agreed only to a partial lifting of a small bit of the closure of Palestinian territories

The Palestinian Authority continues to hint-very broadly-that it is badly in need of donations from the Arab states.

The PA’s short honeymoon with Ariel Sharon is over. Once again this morning, in several news items, VOP called the Likud leader “the extremist Ariel Sharon,” and Arafat’s spokesman, Abu-Irdeineh criticized Sharon’s campaign speech comment that the Oslo process “is dead.”

It appears that Palestinian officials are also troubled by Sharon’s comments to the Habad newspaper (in which he noted his concessions were not trying to re-conquer Nablus and Jericho), and PA Minister Nabil Amr indicated that the PA might take an active voice in the Israeli elections. (see interview below)

VOP also had a feature this morning on an Arab-American-run “Intifada radio network” in the United States, with stations in Detroit, Chicago and Washington, among others. The network’s organizer, Hikmat al-‘Aini, said the network was trying to balance the pro-Israeli tilt in the American media, in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

9 a.m. Thursday Morning Headlines

  • “The newspaper Al Hayat al-Jadida (the official PLO newspaper in the Palestinian territories) reports according to a Palestinian source that the Palestinian-Israeli meeting held last night was devoted to security, and the Israeli side refused to lift the closure on the Palestinian territories, but it agreed to open the transit crossings at Rafah, Karni and Karameh as well as the airport, along with opening the closure on Qalqilya, only.
  • Ten citizens were wounded in a variety of ways in clashes yesterday with occupation forces throughout the homeland;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat will participate in the (Intifada) oversight committee of the Arab summit in the Tunisian capital, which began its deliberations yesterday;
  • The President’s advisor, Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, said in a press statement in Marakesh (Morocco) that the National (Palestinian) Authority holds a dialogue with the Israeli government and not with political parties in Israel;
  • Ariel Sharon, the candidate of the Right for the Prime Ministry in Israel, officially launched his election campaign last night with an assembly in occupied Jerusalem; [note: the Likud assembly took place in Western Jerusalem in Binyanei Ha-Ooma]. He said there would not be peace without concessions…”

7:00 a.m. / 8:00 a.m. Headlines

  • “A ruling tomorrow in the case of five men accused of cooperation with the Occupation;
  • The American Administration announces the delay -rather than the cancellation-of the Ross Visit;
  • Abd-Rabbo calls for judging Barak and his ministers as war criminals;
  • The Israeli response to the Clinton initiative demands complete control over bordcer crossings and Palestinian weapons;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat meets with King Muhammad VI in Marakesh and heads to Tunis and meets Ben-Ali and the members of the Arab summit oversight committee today;
  • Nablus starts a campagin against illegal cars.
  • Tens of citizens wounded in confrontations with occupation across homeland;
  • Meeting last night in Beit Hanoun check post to discuss putting an end to Israeli aggression against our Palestinian people, involving Dr. Saeb Erikat, General Amin al-Hindi, Col. Muhammad Dahlan and Col. Jibril Rajoub and Col. Tawfik Tirawi, and on the Israeli side, Tourism Minister Amnon Shahak and Avi Dichter, the head of the Gneral Security Service, the Shabak.” (some of the 9AM headlines also appeared in 7am and 8am headlines, as well)

Quotes from Interview with Dr. Nabil Sha’ath, PA Minister of Economic Development and Cooperation

Question: “Can you tell us about the discussions in the oversight committee (of the Arab summit)?”

Answer: “Last night, the committee discussed recent developments, the nine states and the General Secretary of the Arab League, Dr. Esmat Abdel-Mejid (also Meguid) under the leadership of Egypt… listening to the report of

President Abu Amar (Arafat) the subjects that were discussed at the Arab summit only a small portion of which were executed…. Unfortunately, only a small part has been carried out, sponsorship, the call in Switzerland for international protection, for international observers. The billion dollars that have been promised of which only seven million dollars has arrived. All of that was discussed in a serious way…

Question: “What is the reason that these monies have not yet reached the (Palestinian) National Authority?”

Answer: “It has to do with the instructions that the sponsoring nations have given to the banks. It has to do with liquid cash funds available in these banks.

Question: “The Foreign Minister of Canada… says there are contacts to settle the refugees in Canada?”

Answer: “Absolutely not. The Canadian Prime Minister Chretien raised it during his last visit. This is not the time or the place. We are not studying any such initiatives unless Israel recognizes the right of return as a complete solution to the refugee problem. The question of the refugees rest on international legitimacy, resolution 194.”

Quotes from Interview with Nabil ‘Amr, PA Parliamentary Afairs Minister

Question: “Where are the negotiations (with Israel) standing now?”

Answer: “The negotiations are not going anywhere. The negotiations deal with political fluctuations. They are concentrating on the results of confrontations. They are being struck by the change in administrations in the United States. They are being struck by the election fever in Israel, and the election fever makes the political stance unstable because Israel is in this election fever….Also we see a linkage between the political situation and he security situation, and all of that is linked to the internal political situation inside Israel….

Question: “Ariel Sharon began his campaign yesterday and said Oslo cannot serve as the basis for peace. What in your opinion is Sharon’s idea of peace?”

Answer: “Sharon is trying to apply talking about peace. Sharon is trying to use the language of peace for a few days, and he is trying to demonstrate that he will concretize peace. He is sending various messages to the Arabs, speaking in several voices….All that, the strange thing about it is that it has no substantive connection to peace. The substance is that he says he will not return to Ramallah again, which for him is a concession and that he will not dismantle any settlements under any circumstances. And he says NO concessions in the Jordan (Ghor) Valley and Jerusalem and all these matters. In my view, this is illogical and even immoral….This will lead after a while to war and not to peace….

We will not stand still for something like that…. We remember that he brought us Sabra and Chatilla. We have to have a clear agenda….We are gathering information on Sharon and others beside Sharon, and it has to be clear, and (then) we will build a policy based on that.”

Listening to Palestinian Authority Radio: An Assessment

Yasser Arafat is not Adolf Hitler, and Ehud Barak is certainly not Winston Churchill or Charles De Gaulle, but Arafat is a dictator whose strategic goals-like Hitler’s-are no secret, if we will only pay attention to what the dictator says.

The British and the French might easily have defeated Hitler-even as late as 1940–by focusing on what he said to his people, rather than what he said to British and French negotiators, according to “Strange Victory,” a new book by Professor Ernest R. May of Harvard University.

“Except in cases where he had pledged his word, Hitler always meant what he said,” says Professor May, quoting another historian, Sir John Wheeler-Bennett. (“Strange Victory: Hitler’s Conquest of France,” By Ernest R. May, Hill and Wang, 2000, p. 453)

The same is true of Arafat.

Over the last half year, Arafat has met Barak and President Clinton several times, promising them many things, including a televised denunciation of terror and a clear call for an end to attacks on Israeli civilians. But Yasser Arafat really did not want to call off attacks on Israel, and he really does not like lying to his people about his strategic goals.

So, when Arafat returned from the Sharm al-Sheikh summit on November 2, 2000, Barak, Clinton, CNN, Sky News and the Israeli press all waited with baited breath for Arafat to speak up for peace. At the time, the newest so-called “Intifada” was only five weeks old, and it might have been possible to stop it before it totally destroyed any remnants of the Arab-Israeli peace process.

Everyone waited. BBC waited. CBC waited. Israel’s Channel One waited. They all waited and then waited some more. But the first thing Arafat did when he came home from the Sharm al-Sheikh summit was cancelling any televised address to his people. Then, his advisors promised that Arafat would give a live radio address.

After two hours he cancelled that, too, allowing release of a very problematic statement, which, ironically, was broadcast only two hours after a Palestinian car bomb exploded in a crowded Jerusalem market area, murdering several civilians.

The Palestinian communique, which called for Palestinians to use “peaceful means” to achieve national aims, did not condemn the car bombing. Indeed, there was no mention of the bomb blast on VOP Radio (for several hours), nor any clear condemnation of this attack or any earlier violence (except by Israeli forces) at any time during broadcasting today.

“The Palestinian National Authority and the government of Israel reached an understanding for the two sides to implement the understandings of Sharm al-Sheikh as set forth in the statement of President Clinton and the speech of President Mubarrak,” the radio statement began.

It was clear that the communique was both more and less than what many Western diplomats and Israeli officials wanted. The PA statement did not speak directly about the need for Palestinian restraint, but it made many demands on Israel, thus leaving potential “escape clauses” for itself if Israel failed to meet all Palestinian conditions.

But what Arafat does tell his people is critically important, because Palestine State Television and the Voice of Palestine Radio are not like the CBC or BBC. They are government organs controlled solely by “the leader, the symbol, his excellency, President Yasser Arafat” (as the official Palestinian broadcast media call him).

Major violence against Israeli civilians and Israeli soldiers (even in joint patrols with Palestinian soldiers) actually began several days before Ariel Sharon’s much-discussed visit to the Temple Mount area on September 28.

A September 8 mosque speech broadcast on Palestinian tv (Sheikh Abu-Sneina) said, among other nuanced niceties: “slaughter the Jews.”

For days-even weeks–before the Sharon visit, Arafat’s official radio and television outlets were mobilizing Palestinians to violence.

On September 26, VOP called for “the defense of Al Aqsa” even as one Israeli was murdered and other injured in an attack on an Israeli civilian convoy in Gaza. VOP radio, keeping to its own standard of “fairness,” reported “Israeli atrocities.”

The next day, September 27, there were even more calls to violence against Israel, and a Palestinian “policeman” shot his fellow joint-patrol mate, Israeli soldier David Biri. Subsequently Israel State Radio wanted to believe that Arafat really opposes terror and violence. and it broadcast reports that Arafat condemned the attack. In fact, the “condemnation” was really an Arafat phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. VOP radio and Palestinian television broadcast NO report, no quote, no live-voice insert of anything remotely resembling a Palestinian attack on Israelis of any kind-not even attacks on Israeli civilians or Israeli soldiers patrolling together with their Palestinian colleagues.

I have been listening, monitoring and recording Palestinian broadcasts for more than five years, and I am still waiting to hear a clear condemnation of any violence aimed at Israelis. But like those tv crews from CBC, CNN and BBC who waited for Arafat to speak up for peace after returning from Sharm al-Sheikh, I think Arafat will just keep me waiting. [first of two articles)

Michael Widlanski, who holds a certificate in Arabic with distinction from American University of Cairo, holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations at Columia University and is now completing his PhD on the subject of the PA media at Bar U Ilan University in Israel.

Official PA Radio news – the PBC radio January 5

Summary and Analysis

One has to pay attention to the unusual first item of the morning news-which was also the first item last night: unusual both in tone, style and content.

The reliance of Yasser Arafat on the Egyptian interpretation of the Arab summit and the state of talks with the United States/Israel (see also Thursday night update) shows clearly that Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are closely coordinating their positions (and not Egypt working as an independent facilitator between Israel and the PA, as some have believed).

It indicates, too, that while the Egyptians may be maintaining a continued hard line on the Jerusalem and the refugee issues, they are also coaching Arafat to signal some kind of flexibility and willingness to continue towards agreement: his positive response to a question about hope for achieving an agreement. In other words, be tough substantively while appearing moderate for media consumption.

At the beginning of its Friday morning news( comments by narrator at 7:04), VOP gave unusually favorable coverage to Ariel Sharon’s courting of the Israeli Arab sector, particularly his remarks that he “respected the Palestinian struggle.” Although this was not repeated in subsequent broadcasts, it marks a sea change from the treatment Sharon used to receive at the hands of VOP-i.e. “the extremist Ariel Sharon” or “the leader of the extremist Right.”

The use of martial music or strongly militant patriotic songs has returned to VOP after the end of the Festival of the Feast ending Ramadan, and the harsh anti-Israeli tone is seen in occasional use of the terms “zionist enemy” “the enemy” and “the Jews” on regular VOP broadcasts, including a Friday morning call-in show with quiz questions for children (Friday, 11:00-11:40 a.m.)

Friday
Morning Headlines–7 am/ 8am:

  • “His Excellency President Yasser Arafat says that what was recently expressed by Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Musa reflects the opinion of the Arab summit and the Palestinian leadership regarding the American thoughts and opinions (i.e. the American initiative);
  • Musa says that Palestinian interlocutor (i.e. the Palestinian side or Palestinian Authority) alone has the power of decision according to international legitimacy;
  • Gilead Sher, Barak’s bureau chief, estimates that the chances for achieving an agreement in the twilight of the presidency of President Clinton are slim;
  • The military court in Beirut handed down 48 sentences on Lebanese accused of cooperating with Israel;
  • President Clinton sends Congress his decision to continue sanctions against Libya begun in 1986;
  • American investigators will arrive tomorrow Saturday in Yemen to participate in interrogation (examination) of the attack on the American destroyer Cole this Tishreen al-Awal (Islamic month: September ) resulting in the deaths of 17 American sailors.”

NINE AM HEADINES

  • “His Excellency President Yasser Arafat says he hopes that an agreement will be achieved by the end of the Clinton Presidency; (rest of 9 am headlines-including Musa-related items-were essnetially duplication of 7 am and 8 am news programs);
  • Resigning Prime Minister Ehud Barak reiterated Israel’s complete refusal of the right of return of refugees to it (Israel) and repeated earlier threats that if no agreement is achieved that he would implement unilateral separation on the land.”

Official PA Radio News The P.B.C. VOP (Voice of Palestine) Radio January 5

Summary and Analysis

One has to pay attention to the unusual first item of the morning news-which was also the first item last night: unusual both in tone, style and content.

The reliance of Yasser Arafat on the Egyptian interpretation of the Arab summit and the state of talks with the United States/Israel (see also Thursday night update) shows clearly that Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are closely coordinating their positions (and not Egypt working as an independent facilitator between Israel and the PA, as some have believed).

It indicates, too, that while the Egyptians may be maintaining a continued hard line on the Jerusalem and the refugee issues, they are also coaching Arafat to signal some kind of flexibility and willingness to continue towards agreement: his positive response to a question about hope for achieving an agreement. In other words, be tough substantively while appearing moderate for media consumption.

At the beginning of its Friday morning news( comments by narrator at 7:04), VOP gave unusually favorable coverage to Ariel Sharon’s courting of the Israeli Arab sector, particularly his remarks that he “respected the Palestinian struggle.” Although this was not repeated in subsequent broadcasts, it marks a sea change from the treatment Sharon used to receive at the hands of VOP-i.e. “the extremist Ariel Sharon” or “the leader of the extremist Right.”

The use of martial music or strongly militant patriotic songs has returned to VOP after the end of the Festival of the Feast ending Ramadan, and the harsh anti-Israeli tone is seen in occasional use of the terms “zionist enemy”, “the enemy” and “the Jews” on regular VOP broadcasts, including a Friday morning call-in show with quiz questions for children (Friday, 11:00-11:40 a.m.)

Friday
Morning Headlines–7 am/ 8am:

  • “His Excellency President Yasser Arafat says that what was recently expressed by Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Musa reflects the opinion of the Arab summit and the Palestinian leadership regarding the American thoughts and opinions (i.e. the American initiative);
  • Musa says that Palestinian interlocutor (i.e. the Palestinian side or Palestinian Authority) alone has the power of decision according to international legitimacy;
  • Gilead Sher, Barak’s bureau chief, estimates that the chances for achieving an agreement in the twilight of the presidency of President Clinton are slim;
  • The military court in Beirut handed down 48 sentences on Lebanese accused of cooperating with Israel;
  • President Clinton sends Congress his decision to continue sanctions against Libya begun in 1986;
  • American investigators will arrive tomorrow Saturday in Yemen to participate in interrogation (examination) of the attack on the American destroyer Cole this Tishreen al-Awal (Islamic month: September ) resulting in the deaths of 17 American sailors.”

NINE AM HEADINES

  • “His Excellency President Yasser Arafat says he hopes that an agreement will be achieved by the end of the Clinton Presidency; (rest of 9 am headlines-including Musa-related items-were essnetially duplication of 7 am and 8 am news programs);
  • Resigning Prime Minister Ehud Barak reiterated Israel’s complete refusal of the right of return of refugees to it (Israel) and repeated earlier threats that if no agreement is achieved that he would implement unilateral separation on the land.”

Official PA radio news – the P.B.C. VOP (Voice of Palestine) Radio: January 6th

Summary and Analysis

Reports on VOP once gain turned a bit more pessimistic Saturday.Openning Paragraph

VOP featured comments by Saeb Erikat that Yasser Arafat had demanded of President Bill Clinton, during their Washington talks, to push Israel to stop its attacks on the Palestinians, especially the policy of assassinations and economic closures.

Erikat, the PA Home Rule Minister and a senior negotiator, also said that the Palestinian people clung to its legitimate rights first of which were the right of return and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem its capital.

Erikat said he did not believe an agreement was possible, and he cited a variety of assruances and guarantees that the PA demanded of Israel.

In its Saturday night broadcast, VOP said it was expected President Clinton would announce a decision within the next two days on how to continue with the peace process.

VOP featured the greetings of Saddam Hussein to the Palestinian people-comments he made during an anniversary of the founding of the Iraqi army. VOP noted that it was Hussein’s third public appearance in a week, following reports from the Iraqi opposition that Hussein was seriously ill.

Both on Saturday and Friday, VOP gave strong coverage to opinion polls in Israel which show Barak trailing badly.

SATURDAY
Morning Headlines-JANUARY 6: (7:00 AM/8:00 AM)

*”The martyring of Arid Sabr al Jabali, 19 years old, in Hebron, from occupation forces’ artillery shelling, and in Gaza, the martyring Muhammad Abu Hassirer, 35 years old… 70 people were wounded;

  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat holds talks in Muscat…, and his advisor Nabil Abu-Irdeinhe says the talks center on the difficulties in the negotiations (with Israel/United States), and Home Minister Saeb Erikat says it is too early say whether the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations will continue;
  • Dr. Nabil Sha’ath, Economic Development Minister, stresses that the talks continue on the basis of the Arab summit decision and international legitimacy;
  • The high committees of Fatah throughout the homeland stand by President Yasser Arafat in resisting American and Israeli pressure to accept their proposals;
  • Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami says that a Palestinian capital can be set up in East Jerusalem;
  • Israeli negotiator Gilead Sher suggests sovereignty to the Haram being turned over to a third party, neither Palestinian nor Israeli;
  • Syria says ordinary citizens will be allowed to travel to Iraq after a long period in which such travel was not allowed.”

SATURDAY
Evening Headlines-9:00 pm:

  • Confrontations following two martyrings in the homeland;
  • Shelling on neighborhoods in the cities and security forces’ installations;
  • His Excellency the president participates in the Orthodox Christmas celebrations;
  • His Excellency holds talks in Muscat and Oman and signals readiness to continue in negotiations with American Administration;
  • Saddam Hussein salutes the steadfastness of our people in facing vicious Israeli attacks.”

Quotes from Saturday Morning Interview with Saeb Erikat:

“It is understood that there is Palestinian commitment to the peace process based on international legitimacy, resolutions 242, 338 and 194. President Arafat stressed these foundations (in talks with Clinton)….We are for a continuation of the peace process, but a return to the peace process cannot come without reliance on international legitimacy-that means a return based on #242, #338 and #194, the return of Israel to borders of June 4, 1967, including holy Jerusalem, and a solution of the refugee problem based on resolution #194. We expect now for the American Administration to respond in a complete way with a response (also) to these matters from Israel, and its (Israel’s) readiness to execute resolutions of international legitimacy. And what are the obligations of Israel to execute these international commitments and what are the international assurances for the execution of these matters according to international legitimacy. My belief is that it is very difficult to get to agreement in these matters.

These are fateful matters: Jerusalem, the borders, the refugees, the prisoners,… and these matters require details. They require complete clarity. These matters require detailed maps. And general talk without detail, only about principles, that’s completely unacceptable to us.”

Official PA radio news – the P.B.C. VOP (Voice of Palestine) Radio: January 7th

Summary and Analysis

The last few days of VOP news and commentary have seen a kind of return to the pre-Intifada coverage at the Voice of Palestine: the news is built around Yasser Arafat, his trips and his statements.

This is in marked contrast to the news/commentary formula in use over the last three months: graphic reporting of martyrs, wounded, Israeli atrocities and calls for international intervention voiced by Arafat’s top ministers and advisors.

There are probably several reasons for the switch in tone and formula:

*-Lack of any significant diplomatic developments in the last few days;

  • A general drop in mass rioting and consequent casualties on the Palestinian side;
  • A general drop in Israeli military activity.

There may also be a reticence on the part of Arafat’s ministers to “carry the ball” for him in explaining his position to the Palestinian audience. That is perhaps why ministers/negotiators such as Saeb Erikat and Yasser Abd-Rabbo have been offering declarative positions that lack operative details, while ministers outside the actual talks, such as Nabil Sha’ath and PA Speaker Ahmad Qreia (Abu Ala) as well as PLO Executive Secretary Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) have staked out hard-line ideological stands or preferred not to be quoted prominently.

VOP quoted Arafat during his Oman (Muscat) trip, referring to remarks of Egyptian president Husni Mubarak that the question of Jerusalem was not just of importance to the Palestinians but also to all Arabs, Muslims and Christians-a sign that the Egyptians were supporting the firm Palestinian position on sovereignty over all of East Jerusalem, not just parts of it.

Despite speculation in the Israeli press concerning Clinton’s desire to convene an international conference on the Palestinian-Israeli talks in the last days of his Administration, VOP is reporting (though not as its lead item) that Clinton will issue a presidential statement instead.

VOP gave great prominence to the statements of Ra’id Salah, the Mayor of Um al-Fahem in Israel, and the leader of the extreme northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel (SEE
Quote of the Day). Mayor Salah, who has spearheaded the Islamic building programs on the Temple Mount, warned of Jewish extremists who would try to destroy Islamic holy places, particularly a plot to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque.

THIS USE OF THE EXTREMELY INCENDIARY ISLAMIC CHARGES ABOUT PLOTS TO DESTROY THE AL AQSA MOSQUE-AS WELL AS THE PROMINENT ATTENTION GIVEN TO SADDAM HUSSEIN’S CALLS TO CONTINUE TO CONFRONT ISRAEL MILITARILY DO NOT BESPEAK ANY ATTEMPT ON THE PART OF THE PA TO DAMPEN VIOLENCE.

MUHAMMAD DAHLAN AND THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM

Gaza Security chief Muhammad Dahlan, said in an interview that if Israel hoped to return the security situation to what it was before September 28, it was, in effect trying “to dream the impossible dream.”

(SEE INTERVIEW BELOW)

SUNDAY
Morning Headlines-JAN. 7 7:00 AM/8:00 AM

  • “His Excellency President Yasser Arafat participates in midnight mass at Church of the Nativity marking Orthodox Christmas;
  • His Excellency will meet in Amman today with the Jordanian monarch, King Abdullah….
  • His Excellency said on his departure yesterday from Muscat that he hoped Clinton would achieve his promise of agreement before his term ended but that he was ready to meet President-elect George Bush Junior, God-willing (note: VOP does not get into the genealogy of George W. vs. George P. etc)
  • President Bill Clinton will deliver a statement in two days on the Palestinian-Israeli matter, detailing the efforts and the initiatives taken recently
  • Palestinian-Egyptian-Israeli meeting in Cairo today, and the Palestinian side says its demand will concentrate on an end to Israeli aggression immediately
  • Occupation forces shell a military camp (Palestinian) and the Presidential security forces near Salfit…
  • Col. Muhammad Dahlan, head of security in Gaza prefect, says that a Palestinian security delegation will participate in talks today with the Israeli side in Cairo along with the attendance of American and Egyptian officials, and he said the purpose of going to such meetings was putting an end to Israeli practices and attacks carried out by Israel
  • The National and Islamic forces call on the masses of our people tlo commemorate today “The Day of the Martyr” by visits to their graves and to their families, and they (the forces) announce that tomorrow, Monday, is “The Day of the Right of Return” on which our masses are urged to express our complete national consensus with the right of return of the refugees to their homes from which they were expelled in 1948
  • Iraqi President Saddam Hussein salutes the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, in a speech marking the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Iraqi armed forces, saluting their Palestinian steadfastness in confronting the Israeli war machine until they (the Palestinians) realize their national goals.”

Quote of the Day

“The leader of the Islamic movement inside the Green Line and the Mayor of Um al-Fahem (Ra’id Salah) warned of dangers from Israeli sources to introduce archtectural pressures that would threaten the foundations of the Al Aqsa Mosque….He said there were 25 Jewish groups specializing in operations to destroy the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque, from among 120 Jewish groups that strive to return the alleged Temple to the place of Al Aqsa.” (Morning news report, January 7, 7:35 AM)

Quotes from Morning Interview with Muhammad Dahlan, PA Gaza Security Chief:

Question: “There’s a meeting of Palestinian and Israeli security officials today in Cairo…who called for the meeting?”

Answer: “First of all, Israel always says the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people-they are the ones who besiege Tel Aviv and who use violence against the Israeli people, and, first of all, that’s not true. The aggression is being aimed against the Palestinian people or three months. They have used a variety of (military)means against us, not skipping even one means of aggression against our Palestinian people-children, women, old men and even trees and rocks, and even attacking helpless animals….Well, according to President Clinton’s statement in Sharm al-Sheikh, the Israelis are required first of all to lift the siege on the Palestinian people, on the villages and the cities, the roads and the international terminals. And the (Palestinian) Authority has other obligations. But since that date, Israel has only increased its siege, increased its violence, increased the assassinations and policy of aggression against the Palestinian people.

The purpose of these meetings is to carry out what President Clinton, but if Israel thinks the purpose of going to Cairo, under the cover of this siege, is to impose the conditions of Israel, then it is mistaken.

We have an agenda. We have demands-many demands, and they have to carry out their obligations to the Palestinian Authority.”

Question: “There are some who think the purpose of the meeting is to return to the situation that existed on September 28?”

Answer: “If the Israeli translation of such an expression is to return to what existed before, then that’s an unobtainable dream.”

Official PA radio news – the P.B.C. VOP (Voice of Palestine) Radio: January 8th

Summary and Analysis
In its Monday afternoon coverage, VOP reported that Yasser Arafat’s spokesman, Nabil Abu-Irdeineh said the PA expected the incoming Bush Administration to respond to Palestinian reservations on the Clinton proposals.

It was clear from the Abu-Irdeineh comments and an interview with Ahmad Qreia (and yesterday’s interview with Muhammad Dahlan) that the PA has already computed the Clinton ideas as something from which Israel cannot retreat, but it is not standing pat or congratulating itself on the achievement of Presidential recognition-in a formal speech-of the need to establish an independent Palestinian state.

Strangely, the PA is not building on a Clinton statement as a jumping off point for talks with Israel but rather for negotiating with the Bush Administration for a new and improved set of American proposals.

Palestinian officials are already hinting to the Palestinian audience, however, that these ideas will not be immediately accepted because are not likely to fulfill completely Palestinian demands which still include total withdrawal from the West Bank, total sovereignty over East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount and the right of return for Palestinian refugees to the homes “from which they were expelled in 1948.”

Earlier,VOP returned Monday to its Intifada-formula coverage: less attention to Arafat and more attention to Israeli atrocities, with an emphasis on Israeli war crimes and plots to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque.

In a somewhat unusual move, VOP devoted part of its morning news round-up to reading a commentary from WAFA (Wikalat al-Anba al-Filistiniyya), the PLO news agency which excoriated Israel’s policy of premeditated murdered combined with indiscriminate mayhem. The commentary said the Israelis appeared to be interested in killing anything that was Palestinian, including trees (echoing remarks yesterday of Muhammad Dahlan, and earlier of other officials).

“As in the past, the Israeli army will apologize or premeditated killing and indiscriminate killing, and as in the past, the Israeli government will apologize, and as in the past, the Israeli masses will apologize to the Palestinian people or all this crazy killing and all this destruction,” the WAFA commentary said. The commentary compared Israel’s policies to those of the Nazis.

Also, Monday afternoon, VOP gave detailed coverage to a press conference by the Jerusalem Mufti, Sheikh Ikrema al-Sabry, warning that digging by rabbis was undermining the Al Aqsa Mosque as well as terrorist acts by Jews, including what a VOP narrator called “the provocative march by extremist Jews” on Monday evening around Old Jerusalem.

Quote of the Day

“The Al Aqsa Mosque is for Muslims only. The land on which the mosque is built is Islamic property (Arabic: Waqf). Its upper part and its underside are also Islamic property.” (Sheikh Ikrema al-Sabry in 2:15 pm afternoon interview, reading part of Fatwa, or religious edit, concerning the Al Aqsa Mosque)

Morning Headlines 7:00 AM/8:00 AM:

  • American President Bill Clinton will announce what were the results of his efforts between the two sides, the Palestinian and Israeli…;
  • The American president is sending his envoy Dennis Ross to the region in the coming days;
  • An Israeli report speaks of an extremist Jewish group planning to build the third Temple…;
  • Parliamentary deputies in the (Israeli) labor Party speak clearly of the need to replace Ehud Barak as candidate for prime minister with Shimon Peres;
  • The martyring of the youth Abdul-Hamid Kurati, 34 years old,…near the settlement of Netzarim, which was built on lands on citizens’ lands (i.e. land taken from citizens);
  • And yesterday, the martyring of the young woman, Fatima Abu-Jeish, 20 years old from Beit Dajin near Nablus, who was shot through the heart by occupation soldiers who opened fire on a car they had stopped;
  • And in other crimes against the rights of our people committed by occupation forces and the colonists lead to seven major injuries to our citizens in Gaza, Ramallah and Bethlehem;
  • General Musa Arafat, commander of military intelligence, categorically denies any connection to the recent explosive operation in Tel Aviv;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat asserts that the Paelstinian Leadership awaits American explanations concerning the proposal of President Bill Clinton dealing with a Palestinian-Israeli agreement;
  • His Excellency received at the presidential headquarters Lord Michael Levy, the special emissary of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, briefing him on recent developments in the Palestinian lands, especially the continuation of Israeli aggression, as well as the American ideas and opinions and the Palestinian reservations concerning them;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat receives a special message from the Italian prime minister, Guiliano Amatto….
  • The Iraqi leadership said today that the uranium shells used in Yugoslavia are similar to those used in the Gulf War in 1991 by American forces against the Iraqi people;
  • Deputy Iraqi Prime Minister Taher Yassin Ramadan will make a visit soon to Cairo to execute an economic cooperation agreement with Egypt.”

(Note: This Israeli report was prepared by the far-Left organization, Keshev)

MONDAY
Afternoon Headlines 2:00 PM/3:00 PM:

  • “Masses of our people accompany two exalted martyrs (to burial) in Ramallah and Nablus;
  • Several of our citizens wounded by occupation forces during a parade in support of the right of return;
  • Curfew in village of Sinjil;
  • The National Authority demands that the coming American Administration respond to its reservations about the proposals of President Clinton.”
  • The Palestinian and Israeli security delegations let Cairo after holding a meeting without results;

Quotes from Interview with Ahmad Qreia, PA Speaker of Legislature:

Question: “The one operative thing one understands from President Clinton’s speech is the dispatch of special envoy Dennis Ross. What do you think can come of this step?”

Answer: “There is nothing new in what President Clinton has set out to do. As for Mr. Dennis Ross he has always failed in his visits….He has always showed preference for the Israeli side, and the expectations from this visit do not differ from his earlier visits.”

Question: “Clinton’s speech talks about a Palestinian state and a capital in east Jerusalem. That’s in east Jerusalem but not all East Jerusalem.”

Answer: “He is still saying that the Jewish neighborhoods will be for Israel, and the Palestinian neighborhoods will be for the Palestinians. That’s the heart of the complications: where are the roads, where do you go out, where do you go in, where do you up and down and where’s the bridge….And where do you put the police? These are complications (whose solutions) no one can see. I cannot see an agreement in the shortest possible would be three or four months, a year, with patience, two years for any final agreement.

A Palestinian state would be first of all a Palestinian state because it’s our decision and not as just one of many items in an agreement. So it is with East Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine because it is part of the Palestinian lands occupied in 1967, and it has to return in its entirety to the Palestinians….”

Question: “It is clear from his commentary on his ideas that the return of the refugees is to the Palestinian state and there’s no talk of a return to the lands from which they were expelled….Can we say that these thoughts are enough for us? Or do we finalize these thoughts with the new Administration?”

Answer: “My opinion for more than a year that we cannot reach an agreement in such a short time. Not in ten days. Not in a month. After Camp David, we immediately knew the Israeli position. And the American position which leaned on the Israeli position….I said it was too soon to reach an agreement with this American Administration, although it was the only intermediary in this (peace) process. But the prejudice (i.e. pro-Israeli tendency or tilting) was clear. At Camp David, the American Administration-and the president– presented us with an initiative which…was the Israeli position that we opposed. I don’t see any change in what was presented in Camp David and the most recent ideas except certain attempts at certain linguistic twists only….

On land they spoke about 95 percent and they spoke about 90 percent, and they said 91 percent before Camp David before they put it down (on the table) at Camp David. They spoke of settlements, of settlement belts….They spoke of Jewish neighborhoods to Israel…As for refugees, their position was perhaps more favorable before Camp David than after Camp David…But when the American president speaks of the right of return to a Palestinian state, that’s not for us (i.e. we don’t accept it). And there’s no chance whatsoever, absolutely, to build a Palestinian agreement on he who wants to return to a Palestinian state. That’s a sovereign Palestinian decision. Law of return. Law of Immigration. That will decide who will enter and who will not enter. The Right of return is Palestinian legitimacy, not for any other party….No one else in the world. Not the United States. Not Israel. There will be no one else participating on the agreement on the subject of the return to the lands of a Palestinian state. We are talking about the return of the refugees to their homes from which they were expelled by force of arms.”

Quotes from Interview with Jerusalem Mufti, Sheikh Ikrema al-Sabry:

The Al Aqsa Mosque is for Muslims only. The land on which the mosque is built is Islamic property (Arabic: Waqf). Its upper part and its underside are also Islamic property.

We sense that there is an ugly attack, a vicious attack, aimed at the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque on the part of Israeli politicians and the rabbis of the Jews. They talk and explain as if the matter is in their hands. As if they own this Al Aqsa. We say they have no right to talk about this matter, because they have no ownership…. Israel is an occupying authority in Jerusalem, and by what right do they talk about Al Aqsa?

We refuse all these statements, all these proposals, the American and the Israeli….In practice, the excavations (under and around Al Aqsa) continue, and we have said in tens of statements our refusal to the excavations surrounding Al Aqsa….And the martyrings in 1996 were because of the excavations. We are against these excavations.”

(Note: 1996 is a reference to the opening of a very old Hasmonean tunnel which had been filled with refuse. The opening touched off rioting and shooting in which at least 15 Israelis and 50 Palestinians were killed.)

Official Palestinian Authority Voice of Israel Radio Broadcasts – January 3

Quote of the Day “We will not accept the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem being segmented and separated one from another with an Israeli region clucking (i.e. gloatingly controlling) over them and controlling them as cantons within an Israeli city.” (PA Minster of Information Yasser Abd-Rabbo, who accompanied Arafat to Washington, commenting on state of talks with Clinton Administration)

“The American stance is the child (i.e. product) of the Israeli stance. and Clinton’s path in recent days is the most Israel can or the Prime Minister of Israel wants to present.” (Palestinian analyst, Dr. Muhammad Muslih, lecturer at Columbia University and Long Island University, in featured VOP interview, morning news round-up)

Summary and Analysis Top officials in the PA told the Voice of Palestine that they were very unsatisfied with American proposals and expected Bill Clinton to bring their objections to Israel’s attention, while producing American maps with clearer indications of where the American formula leads.

VOP headline writers were eager not to show a “NO” in Palestinian responses to the United States, but also showed that PA has demanded that Clinton rework his ideas, while thanking him and at the same time doubting his ability to pull off a miracle by January 20.

VOP featured an interview with Columbia University lecturer Dr. Muhammad Muslih who said he thought the most Clinton could “attempt to achieve” was a vague framework in which the Palestinian Authority was convinced to accept some main points with the details left until after the Israeli elections.

“The American administration does not have the ability to present clarifications to Palestinian stipulations,” said Muslih, a Palestinian scholar living in New York.

Even before the two meetings yesterday, the PA through its broadcast arm-the VOP-was attempting to prepare the Palestinian people for less than complete success in meeting its demands. (see VOP commentary by Youssef Kazaz, below, and last three days of reports).

VOP was replete with reports and quotes from PA officials claiming that the Clinton ideas were Israeli proposals dressed up as American proposals.

The anti-American tone changed yesterday and today as Yasser Arafat’s advisor and other PA officials were quoted as saying that Clinton had promised to work through the last minutes up to the Bush Administration inauguration in bringing the Palestinian observations to Israel for more discussion.

But the military-intifada option has hardly been shelved.

Presidential Secretary Taib Abdel Rahim was quoted, beginning last evening on VOP, in a call to the Palestinian people to escalate its intifada, Abdel-Rahim’s remarks were aired throughout Wednesday morning and mid-day.

There was no PA condemnation and nary a VOP mention of the shooting incidents last night on the Jerusalem-Modiin highway-the third such incident in three weeks on the major highway.

Quotes from Interview with negotiator Yasser Abd Rabbo, PA Information Minister, 7:30 am, Wednesday morning news round-up

“There are core matters in the Palestinian cause that touch on the Palestinian future.and these clarification deal with Jerusalem, the holy places, the holy shrine (haram al-sharif), and it is impossible that we accept what the Israelis have offered and what appears in the American paper also, because the sovereignty of Israel from the war neighborhoods (apparently a reference to neighborhoods built after the ’67 war) of the city, actually from one end to the other (of Jerusalem) in effect controlling the heart of the city has no basis in truth from the religious point of view. There is some talk of a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem without us seeing the map. Well, we will not accept the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem being segmented and separated one from another with an Israeli region clucking (i.e. gloatingly controlling) over them and controlling them as cantons within an Israeli city.

We also need to see the maps regarding the West Bank and Gaza. That’s because the talk of 95-percent more or less, that kind of talk cannot lead to a result, because the subject is not appropriate, because the subject is land which has a future, and it is incumbent to deal with the issue of contiguity in the West Bank. And it is impossible to cut the West Bank into two parts or three parts which is what the Israelis are aiming at. And the issue of the refugees. Up to this moment there is nothing encouraging in the American paper on this matter. There is no right of return, no treatment of it, or anything close to it. Likewise the rights of the refugees in Lebanon who have priority in any treatment..”

Morning Headlines (7:00, 8:00):

  • “The Palestinian-American summit held in two stages, ends about two hours ago;
  • American President Bill Clinton promises to discuss the Palestinian observations about his thoughts on the peace process with the Israeli side before returning to the Palestinian side or continuing the discussion soon;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat leaves Washington in about an hour and will stop in Cairo where he will meet Egyptian president Muhammad Husni Mubarak, briefing him on the results of the Palestinian-American summit, and will then attend a conference under the aegis of the Arab League;
  • Presidential Secretary Taib Abdel-Rahim says the Clinton ideas will not be accepted if they are but a new version of what was proposed in Camp David, and Minister for Economic Cooperation Dr. Nabil Sha’ath thinks there is only a remote chance of agreement before the 20th of this month (inauguration date -ed.);
  • Even as the diplomatic arena is active, an Israeli military escalation in a variety of Palestinian prefects by occupation soldiers and gangs of settlers;
  • Occupation forces shell with artillery through the nightoccupied neighborhoods in Batuniya, Nablus, Hebron and prefects in Gaza and Dir-al-Balah, and the wicked shelling leads to several injuries among our citizens and damage to houses.;
  • Occupation forces close down all approaches to Gaza, effectively dividing it into four sections, separating them with tanks.;
  • Israelis assassinate citizen in Beit Lahiya;
  • Seven Israelis injured yesterday in shooting incidents yesterday, and Israeli sources say that three of the wounded are in serious condition.;
  • Resigning Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak threatened the outbreak (Arabic: threatened in active voice, outbreak in passive voice) of a war in the Middle East as the result of a failure to achieve peace, according to him, and he said the danger of war was greater than at any time in the last three years..”

Quotes from interview with Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, spokesman for Yasser Arafat, 7:10-7:20 am, Wednesday:

Question: “Did we meet with the clarifications we demanded from the American side?”

Answer: “In the meeting in Washington this morning between President Arafat and President Clinton all the Palestinian questions and clarifications were cast about so that the Palestinian side was raised in a long discussion about all questions in the final phase, especially the American proposals. As you know in a second meeting in the evening today between President Arafat and President Clinton to continue the discussion in a deep way on the American ideas, and the opinions and the clarifications from the Palestinian side.

The American president promised to transfer this picture to the Israeli side and the Israeli prime minister to consult with him (sic) about his role and his reaction to the American side especially to what President Arafat and the Palestinian delegation has said. The American efforts continue. We will probably get some answers in the next 24 hours.The process goes on. The questions to which President Arafat demanded an answer continue to be a matter to which it is premature to say that there have been results. Or the next 24 hours there will probably be developments with some of these questions..President Arafat will continue talking to the Americans and with our brother Arabs on the picture of these discussions and on the details. Efforts continue. The process continues to be difficult..The talks were serious and deep, but it is impossible to say that we have achieved final or clear-cut results.

The American president promised to continue his efforts with the Israeli side. And then to return to contact President Abu Amar one more time to inform him of the status of his talks with the Israeli side.”

Question: “Why should America give interpretations to proposal it itself has proposed?”

Answer: “The American side presented its formula for thoughts. We demanded clarifications on some of the understandings that are hinted at in these thoughts. It is expected that the American president will consult with the Israeli side to see its point of view on these thoughts. And these are the clarifications demanded by the Palestinian side.It’s a bit complicated. It will require some time for these efforts to continue. The results up to this minute are unknown. The next 24 hours will get some of the clarifications to some of the questions..”

Question: “Is the American side putting pressure on the Palestinian side or do they have more understanding now of the Palestinian position?”

Answer: “Well, the American side has its matters and its causes, and it has a special relationship with Israel. And one should not expect more than what one should expect from the American Administration.

We always demand a fair and just stand and a clear stand with the Israeli side, but we should not expect the United States to side against Israel and for the Palestinian side. But the attempts continue. The American efforts continue. The Palestinian and Arab consultations and contacts continue, but situation continues to be complicated and difficult.”

Question: “What about Israeli statements that there will be no Palestinian sovereignty on the haram.?”

Answer: “The American side knows completely the Palestinian stance. The Arab stance, and the international stance. There will never be peace without the establishment of an Palestinian state with holy Jerusalem as its capital, first of all its Islamic and Christian holy places with complete Palestinian sovereignty upon them..(The Israeli government has to understand that) the way to peace and the way to security is the way to an independent Palestinian state, the way to Jerusalem with Palestinian sovereignty over its holy places. That’s the way and that’s the solution.”

TUESDAY
Evening Headlines 9:00 p.m.:

  • “Artillery shelling continues in southern and northern Gaza as well as shelling in Hebron and Nablus;
  • Israeli military aggression causes about 20 wounded among citizenry as Israel strengthens its siege on prefectures throughout the homeland;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat meets President Bill Clinton in about half an hour;
  • The National Authority says Clinton’s ideas will not be accepted if they are (just) a new version of what was offered in Camp David;
  • Barak casts doubt on the ability to reach an agreement before the Israeli elections, as Israeli president calls for postponement of negotiations.”

SPECIAL MORNING COMMENTARY-TUESDAY JAN. 2 (YOUSSEF KAZAZ, SENIOR COMMENTATOR, VOP) “The summit in Washington starts today, and just half an hour ago we were called by President Arafat’s advisor Nabil Abu-Irdeineh to tell us that His Excellency (Arafat) desires a clear American decision from the American Administration and the American President Bill Clinton that holy Jerusalem will be the capital of the Palestinian state in all its neighborhoods and its Islamic and Christian holy places, according to international legitimacy. And we say to the American president that he must realize that since the Zionist Conference in Basil in 1897 the Jewishness of Jerusalem was not decided (i.e. was refuted or decided against).

Jewish Jerusalem is an Israeli invention to oppose peace and refuse the peace option.

And President Yasser Arafat wants a clear American decision from President Clinton-for the right of return for the sons of our people, the refugees, and quick American recognition for a Palestinian state, and a clear American decision to Israel to abolish the Israeli settlements..

The Palestinian-American summit is taking place even as the Israeli prime minister directs his war against us..Even as the Knesset legitimizes with new laws the prevention of our people from returning to their homeland, Palestine. But the laws of the Knesset do not interest the Palestinian people. It is not a holy law but only ink on a page..

THIRD
Quote of the Day

“The only thing I can tell you is that American efforts continue. The American president promised he would work up to the last minute of his presidency..But it’s difficult to expect quick results” (Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, describing the chances for President Clinton to achieve a Palestinian-Israeli agreement before the January 20 inauguration of George W. Bush as President of the United States. Morning Interview, 7:15 am)

Song of the Day (introducing morning news round-up, Wednesday): “The house is ours Jerusalem is ours With our hands With a little more force: Jerusalem” (Arabic: “Al bayt: hua lana Wa-alQuds la-na Wa-bi-aydi al-nas B’zeyadat al quwa-Al Quds”)

Official PA radio news – the PBC radio Jan. 2

Summary and Analysis
VOP largely avoided reporting on the car bomb in Netanya last night (around seven p.m.), NOT putting the item in the headlines and slipping in the news as a tag-on at the end of a report on the 11 p.m. news. Despite reports in Israel Radio, there was no on-air condemnation of the event by the Palestinian Authority nor any of its officials, nor any VOP report of any such condemnation during the late-night news.

Similarly, during the 7am news Tuesday morning January 2, there was no condemnation nor criticism of the car bomb attack. The attack itself was reported as the tail-end of the item about the closure of Gaza Airport.

Important Note: Yasser Arafat’s personal advisor and spokesman Nabil Abu-Irdeineh as well as Information Minister Yasser Abd Rabbo both appeared on VOP Tuesday morning, and neither condemned nor criticized the car bombing. In fact, Abd-Rabbo was interviewed a second time for the same broadcast (this time by Gaza correspondent ‘adil Za’anun) as he was about to board plane to washington with Arafat, and he ofered no condemnation nor criticism of car bombing.

Indeed, during the 8 am news summary (read by Maha Awad), the suspected perpetrator of the car bombing was called a “martyr” (see headlines below).

Quote of the Day

“Our people are a people of heroes and will continue their struggle and their confrontation with Israeli escalation until the Palestinian flag is unfurled over the mosques and churches of holy Jerusalem.” (Yasser Arafat in statement at headquarters yesterday on return from Cairo, reported this morning by VOP)

Morning Headlines Jan. 2, 2001(7:00 and 8:00 a.m.):

  • “President Yasser Arafat heads to Washington for a visit to President Bill Clinton;
  • Palestinian declaration that participation in the summit (with Clinton) does not connote Palestinian acceptance of American ideas;
  • Masses of our people mark the 36th anniversary of the unleashing of our heroic Palestinian Revolution, saluting the newest stars among our martyrs,.pledging to continue our blessed Intifada until the elimination of the Israeli occupation;
  • Presidential Secretary Taib Abdel-Rahim denies reports in the media that the Palestinian Authority has agreed to American ideas;
  • Occupation authorities close airport following car bomb in Netanya.Israeli sources speculate that the executor of the attack was martyred; (Note: Israel reports one man in very serious condition, but no deaths as of 8 a.m.)
  • Israeli Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein opposes agreement with Palestinians during election period;
  • Israeli Knesset passes law refusing right of return for Palestinian refugees.”

Song of the Day

“I will redeem thee
with my spirit and with my blood
Jerusalem, Jerusalem”
(broadcast as lead-in to Midnight news round-up, Monday/Tuesday-January1/2, several hours after car bombing in Netanya)

Midnight Headlines — January 1/2, 2001

  • “His Excellency President Yasser Arafat heads to Washington at dawn this morning to meet President Bill Clinton and to get clarifications on the American ideas on the peace process;
  • President Secretary Taib Abdel-Rahim denies media reports of Palestinian agreement with American ideas;
  • Presidential Advisor (Arafat’s) Nabil Abu-Irdeineh stressed the strength of the Palestinian stance opposing Clinton’s ideas;
  • Israeli occupation authorities closed down the Gaza International airport in response to the explosion in the city of Netanya, as three explosions took place in a car-bomb in Netanya, wounding 37 people, one of them seriously, and Israeli sources said he (the seriously wounded) was the man who executed the attack.
  • The extremist Rabbi Meir Lau (note: the chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Israel) called for freezing political negotiations with the Palestinians in response to the explosive operation (Arabic: “amaliyyat tafjir”; this is a a value-neutral way to describe the attack without calling it a suicide operation or terrorist act);
  • A citizen was wounded when his vehicle was subjected to fire near the town of Hizmeh;
  • Occupation forces opened their wicked fire on the populated neighborhood of Dahiya in Nablus, and in Salfit and in Nabi Salih.” (There were other reports of individual casualties in Bethlehem, Hebron and Kufr Haris, as well as retrospectives on the day’s funerals and recaps of earlier reports through the day.)

Quotes from Interview with Yasser Abd Rabbo, PA Information Minister

“President Abu Amar (Arafat) in a second letter several days ago to President Clinton said he was ready to come to Washington to meet with President Clinton for the sake of discussing for the clarifications he desires regarding the American initiative.. There are many things that need clarification beffore we give our final word on the American initiative..”

Quotes from Interview with Nabil Abu-Irdeineh

“The contacts between President Arafat and President Clinton continue. There was a long phone conversation last night concerning the American ideas and especially the demand from the Palestinian side for clarifications on those ideas..The two presidents-Arafat and Clinton-want to discuss the ideas in detail..Our consultations with the Arab states continue as do our consultations with the Europeans.”

Question: “Is there any way out of the situation?”

Answer: “The efforts continue.. This will be a fateful week, whether positive or negative. We don’t know how things will turn out.”

Will the PA Move Thousands of Arab Refugees into Jerusalem?

It’s hard to find anyone these days in East Jerusalem who supports the idea of splitting the city again. Even PA representatives are opposed to a return to the situation that existed before the Six Day War. The Palestinians would prefer for the city to remain open and without borders.

Back when Ehud Barak first came to power, the PA already began to prepare for the day when the Palestinians would get full sovereignty over East Jerusalem. Senior PA officials knew even before the last elections that if Barak were elected prime minister, he would concede the eastern part of the city. “We received promises from senior Labor Party members that if they came to power they would divide Jerusalem and give us an independent state,” says Khatem Abed el-Kader, a representative of the Jerusalem district in the Palestinian Legislative Council.

The PA’s plan for East Jerusalem includes:

1 – Stationing between 2,500 and 4,000 police and Palestinian security personnel in all the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, including the Old City and the commercial centers (Saladin Street, Sultan Suleiman Street A-Zahara Street and Wadi Joz). The headquarters of the various security organizations would also be moved form Gaza and Ramallah to East Jerusalem.

2 – PA Chairman Yasser Arafat would open an office on the Temple Mount compound or in one of the buildings in the Moslem Quarter that overlooks the mosques. Arafat wants the el-Aksa mosque and the Dome of the Rock to be visible from the window of this office. He likes to compare himself to the great Moslem fighter Salah a-Din who liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders, and his picture with the Temple Mount in the background would help him create the image of the person who followed in this statesman’s footsteps. The PA, incidentally, is at this time considering giving Arafat the title “fatah el-Kuds” (the liberator of Jerusalem) in light of their appreciation of his liberating Jerusalem from the Zionist conquerors.

3 – The PA plans to take control of the Wakf’s properties and state lands in East Jerusalem. The Moslem Wakf (which continues to be subordinate to the Jordanian government) at present has thousands of buildings and large areas in the Old City and the surrounding Arab neighborhoods. The State of Israel also owns lands that were appropriated for public use.

4 – There have been calls in the PA of late to allow tens of thousands of Palestinians, mainly refugees who live in camps in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, to settle in East Jerusalem. The goal: to create a Palestinian majority in East Jerusalem and to turn the “settlers” in French Hill, Ramat Eshkol, Pisgat Zeev, Neve Yaakov, Gilo and Armon Hanatziv into a minority. Thus the Palestinians hope to get the Jewish neighborhoods established in East Jerusalem after ’67 evacuated. But in fact it is the residents of East Jerusalem who should be worried about the neighborhoods and villages being deluged by tens of thousands of Arabs. Residents of Ramallah and Nablus have experienced this on their skins.

5 – Palestinian security sources report on a long list of residents in East Jerusalem who are suspected of collaborating with Israel. These sources say that most of these collaborators will be arrested as soon as the Palestinian police enter Jerusalem. Until today these collaborators enjoyed immunity thanks to their blue ID cards they hold.

The PA, on the other hand, does not have, at this stage, answers to the serious economic problems that would be created when Israel withdraws from East Jerusalem. Around 50,000 families that are entitled to National Insurance payments could find themselves without a crust of bread if their allowances stop. The PA does not have an orderly system to replace the National Insurance Institute. Just the opposite, economists believe that the standard of living in East Jerusalem will drop 50% lower after being given to the PA. They warn of the repercussions of such a situation, as there would two populations in Jerusalem: a Jewish one with a very high standard of living and a thriving economy, and a Palestinian one with a low standard of living and poverty. If Isawiyya residents are not happy, warn economists and others, their neighbors in French will have good reason to be anxious.

This article appeared in the Yerushalaim magazine (owned by Yediot Aharonot) on Dec. 29, 2000