The Palestinian toughened its tone Thursday morning following a cabinet meeting Wednesday night, signaling its demands that Israel-under a Sharon Government– hold fast to all understandings reached with the Barak government as well as the Palestinian versions of UN resolutions. The Voice of Palestine also featured speakers who unabashedly spoke about extending and escalating the “Intifada” for the sake of pressuring Israel.

Summary and Analysis, February 7

On the ‘morning after,’ V.O.P. gave full coverage to the Israeli election victory of Ariel Sharon, emphasizing international concern for a continuing peace process. At the same time, V.O.P.’s second item-carrying over from Tuesday night-was Yasser Arafat’s statement saying the Palestinian Authority respected any choice by the Israeli electorate.

V.O.P. reiterated its late Tuesday night messages as expressed by Arafat and his spokesman, Nabil Abu-Irdeineh who insisted that the Palestinians “would cling to red lines” (i.e. no concessions on most important issues).

Abu-Irdeineh hinted strongly that the PA expects Sharon to abide by understandings reached with Barak and other Israeli leaders, especially, but not only, the principle of territory for peace. Abu-Irdeineh said the agreements were between the PLO and the Israeli government. He further said that peace, security and regional stability were conditional on the Palestinians getting an independent state with complete sovereignty and independence including holy Jerusalem.

V.O.P. noted that Sharon had invited Barak to join a unity government, but Barak had now announced his intention to resign the Labor Party leadership and even to leave political life (Note: This second element is overstated).

The morning round-up also featured Sports and Culture Minister Matan Vilnai’s complaint that the lack of voting by the Arabs had cost Barak the election, and it also headlined leftist party Meretz member Ran Cohen” saying that Meretz would oppose any national unity government.

{NOTE: as is the custom on V.O.P., there were no Hebrew speakers featured-even as short inserts with Arab talk-overs. The only Israeli politicians interviewed in recent days (and in general) were Arab Knesset members of leaders of the Islamic Movement all of whom favored boycotting the elections.}

PA Parliamentary Minister Nabil Amr, in a relatively short interview, admitted that the Palestinians were surprised by the magnitude of the Sharon victory, but Amr stressed “this great percentage gap (i.e. big advantage for Sharon) does not mean confidence in Sharon but speaks of the circumstances of the failure of Ehud Barak.”

V.O.P. also reported that President George Bush called to congratulate Sharon, but V.O.P. stressed that the congratulations from Bush and others were linked to Sharon pursuing the peace process.

In short, the Voice of Palestine and the Palestinian Authority have three prime messages in the day following Sharon’s victory:

  1. Barak lost big because he failed to deliver peace;
  2. the Palestinians will deal with sharon as long as he accepts Palestinians interpretations of international resolutions and Palestinian-Israeli agreements and understandings;
  3. The palestinians will continue their struggle for immediate implementation of their rights (this message was somewhat muted on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning but was strengthened through the day Wednesday and Thursday morning February 8.

(The Voice of Palestine was similar to the Voice of Israel-and most Israeli television commentaries– in stressing the personal failure of Barak, and in ignoring analysis-done on January 30, 2001– by the Tami Steinmetz Center at Tel Aviv University, for example, which showed that more than 70 percent felt Barak’s approach to the Palestinians was “too conciliatory.”)

Morning Round-up Headlines, Wednesday February 7

  • “Ariel Sharon, the leader of the rightist Likud realizes his triumph, clearly and convincingly, over Ehud Barak, the resigning prime minister, and exceeding the opinion polls with an advantage of 25 percent;
  • Near-total boycott of the elections by Palestinians inside the Green Line and ‘day-off’ for Israelis;
  • Resigning Prime Minister Ehud Barak acknowledges the overwhelming defeat and announces departure from head of Labor Party and political life;
  • Ariel Sharon calls for unity government with Labor Party and other parties;
  • Israel and the region enter a new stage, waiting and watching to see fate of the peace process, and actions of Sharon and his government towards peace;
  • And the stance Sharon had announced during the election campaign consists of an absolute fixture that the Oslo Agreement is dead, (preferring) long-term staged agreement while refusing to withdraw the army from additional (literally: new) territories, and continuing the occupation on all of Jerusalem, refusing to dismantle existing settlements and refusing the return of the Palestinian refugees;
  • The reactions from the (Palestinian) National Authority speak of working together with the prime minister of any elected Israeli government, in that the Palestinian side and the Israeli government are obligated to the peace process and respecting the agreements;
  • The American president George Bush telephones to congratulate Sharon, expressing readiness to work with Sharon.for the sake of peace;
  • The European Union congratulates Sharon expecting him to progress in the direction of peace.”

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

  • “The triumph of the extremist Likud candidate in the Israeli election by about 25 percent over his labor party rival, resigning Prime Minister Ehud Barak. According to Central Election Commission figures, after 99-percent of the vote, Sharon has 62.5-percent and Barak with 37.4-percent;
  • And from the perspective of reactions, His Excellency President Yasser Arafat says we will respect the choice of the Israeli people;
  • The president’s advisor, Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, says the National Authority will work with any prime minister elected by the Israeli people and what interests us is the obligation to the peace process.;
  • Sharon invited Barak to join a national unity government.but Barak resigned the Labor Party leadership and his membership in the Knesset.;
  • Regarding Sharon’s victory, Economic Development Minister Shimon Peres said he would have beaten Sharon had he (Peres) been the candidate;
  • More than 130 citizens were injured in attacks by Israeli forces parades of rage that took place throughout the homeland, especially in attacks by Occupation soldiers in the northern approaches to El Bireh, Bir al-Nidam, Nabi Saleh, the prefecture of Hebron and Qalqilya.;
  • A Palestinian delegation led by Feisal al-Husseini went to Amman yesterday for talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdel-Hilal al-Khatib;
  • Egyptian President Husni Mubarak and Tunisian President Zaid Abdeen Ben Ali asserted the need for an international protection force for our Palestinian people in the light of continuing Israeli aggression;
  • Ethiopia and Eritrea agree on zone of justice and Ethipian withdrawal next Monday;
  • American Secretary of State Colin Powell gives a special commentary to diplomats in Washington, calling for continued peace talks in the Middle East, referring to ‘steps for the sake of peace’ instead of ‘peace process.'”

Quote of the Day

“In his election campaign Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon set a clear platform. First of all, the Oslo Agreements from 1993 was dead and would not return.

Second, there would not be a withdrawal from new (i.e. additional) lands. But Sharon declared his intent for peace and said ‘we will not return to Nablus and Jericho.

Third, the continuation of Israeli occupation on all of Jerusalem and the refusal to accept any partition.

Fourth, there will NOT be any removal of any settlement because settlements exist in security zones, according to his view,.and this includes the Jordan Valley.

Fifth, the Palestinian state has to be demilitarized.” (From the first morning-after election report by Nizar al Ghul, 7:15 a.m., Wednesday)

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