Summary and Analysis

It was a sign of a relatively quiet day that VOP featured Dr. Nabil Sha’ath, talking about his trip to Sweden and Norway (and Belgium), as its featured Saturday morning interview guest.

Nevertheless, Sha’ath opened his interview with non-European news: The Palestinian Authority is signaling that it views Ariel Sharon’s election victory as a foregone conclusion, and this signal may have more impact on the vote of Arab Israelis than anything that either Barak or Sharon says or does.

In addition, Sha’ath hinted strongly that the PA is very worried about pro-Israeli positions being adopted by the Bush administration. (Note: In recent days, the PA, through its newspapers and broadcast organs, have been pushing positions which have a simultaneous “anti-Israel” and “anti-American” hue, such as the promotion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the strident almost hysterical protest of the use of “uranium weapons.” VOP featured a morning interview with the PLO’s deputy UN representative-Marwan Jilani– on the PLO’s complaint to the Security Council concerning Israel’s use of uranium against civilians. “We are waiting to see what will be America’s position on this matter, among the permanent members,” asserted Jillani at 7:40 a.m.)

It is not surprising that the diplomatic activity of Yasser Arafat and Nabil Sha’ath in Europe (e.g. Davos and Scandinavia) leads to Sha’ath’s VOP interview pronouncement:

“We are entering a new stage beginning Tuesday,” declared Sha’ath, the PA International Economic Development Minister.

In its coverage of the Israeli elections, VOP’s Saturday morning report began (note the terminology): “On the question of the Israeli elections, a campaign is being waged by Palestinians inside the Green Line to boycott the elections to Israeli prime minister on February 6. And a convoy of cars is traveling around calling on Palestinians inside the Green Line not to vote for any of the candidates for the prime ministry-the rightist extremist Ariel Sharon or the resigning prime minister Ehud Barak at a time when Sharon had a big edge on Barak.

In this regard, the PA basically signaled its support of the Islamic Movement’s call for a boycott, as it invited Sheikh Rai’d Salah-the mayor of Um al-Fahem and the head of the movement’s super-radical northern section-on its morning news show as an interviewee. (See further quote below.)

Saturday Morning Headlines 7 a.m / 8 a.m. / 9 a.m. News Bulletin Headlines

  • “Three citizens were wounded in various degrees when fire was opened on them by Occupation soldiers concentrated in Beit ‘Awa in the Hebron prefecture.(description and identity of wounded);
  • About 50 citizens were wounded and suffered suffocation in a confrontation yesterday between citizens and Occupation forces, with the confrontations concentrated at the southern approaches to Al-Bireh and the town of Silwad east of Ramallah, as well as in the two cities of Hebron and Qalqilya and the settlement of Netzarim in Gaza;
  • Occupation troops and bulldozers destroy lands of Beit Laqiya near colony of Doogit which was built on the land of citizens;
  • Occupation authorities impose curtailment of movement on main roads of homeland, imposing siege on main towns and villages.”

Quote of the Day

“Europe today has a new role. The United States has regressed to its special relationship with Israel in certain past stances, and it (Europe) has no choice but to play a role.” (Nabil Sha’ath, 7:15 Saturday morning interview)

Quotes from Interview with Nabil Sha’ath, PA minister and negotiator

“We are entering a new stage beginning Tuesday. And in this new stage, there will be new Israeli ministers unlike those governing Israel today. The history is known, but the future is not known. There is also a new American Administration which has not yet gotten its feet steady on the ground. The peace process has not yet achieved its results. And the Israeli siege continues in all its manifestations. So we have a political crisis and an economic crisis.

The European Union, which is our strategic friend, has not taken a stance appropriate to the historic place of our relations, perhaps because it wanted to give a chance to the proposals of Ehud Barak and Clinton-before getting involved. Europe today has a new role. The United States has regressed to its special relationship with Israel in certain past stances, and it (Europe) has no choice but to play a role.”

Question: “But is Europe ready for this role?”

Answer: “We will have to flesh this out, having mutual understanding (with the Europeans) to this role, and we will have to wait to until after this Tuesday. I am cautiously optimistic that Europe will assume its important strategic role.”

Quotes from interview with Sheikh Rai’d Salah, Saturday 7:50 a.m.

Question: “In which of the boxes should the voters cast their votes?”

Answer: “In neither. Not this and not that, because the victory of our Palestinian masses inside the Green Line requires the boycott of the elections completely. The ballot boxes must be returned as empty as when they came. My conception is that this stance should be re-doubled (strengthened) until it reaches near consensus status in the internal-’48 Palestinian street (Note: this is a reference to the “1948 Arabs,” i.e., those conquered by the Zionists in 1948).”

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