Summary and Analysis

Perhaps because the Palestinian Authority has some internal divisions about contacts with Israel, VOP has been largely downplaying this subject. One point was stressed however: Yasser Arafat himself was quoted as denying that the Clinton Administration position paper (much talked about in Israel) DOES NOT include any trade-off of Palestinian sovereignty over the holy shrines in return for Palestinian willingness to delay the “right of return”

Instead of dwelling on the peace process, VOP has been going into great detail concerning the new appointments of George Bush (including broadcasting some Arab pronouncements that Colin Powell is “a war criminal” because of the Gulf War) and the nitty gritty of the Israeli electoral process, including the possibility that there may be an Arab candidate for Israeli prime minister.

During its mid-day Tuesday afternoon news shows, VOP gave significant air-time to reading a front-page article from the Iraqi newspaper al-Jumhouriyya (“The Republic”) to the effect that Powell was a war criminal and that his appointment showed that the new Bush Administration was still strongly anti-Iraqi. (NOTE: Reading a newspaper article in the main headlines is rare, especially when it’s an article from a non-Palestinian source.)

In addition, VOP continues to focus on the deaths-martyrs and funerals for them-and wounded on the Palestinian side, referring to Israeli actions as war crimes. There has been no noticeable pull-back on harsh anti-Israeli rhetoric, except on the personal front: Ehud Barak and Israeli Army commander Shaul Mofaz have not been called “war criminals” on major news shows in the last three days.

At the same time, PA officials sometimes cannot resist poking fun of their Israeli counterparts, as when Saeb Erikat was asked about Acting Israeli Foreign Minister (and Police Minister) Shlomo Ben-Ami’s comments about a trade-off deal regarding Jerusalem holy sites/Palestinian refugees: “I cannot be the watchman for the lips of Shlomo Ben-Ami or other Israeli officials.”

Quotes of the Day

  • “I call on the Israelis to keep the agreements they have agreed.and not to rely on violence, on artillery, on tanks and so forth against cities and other economic and military means.” (Yasser Arafat, morning news)
  • “We are heading to Washington this Tuesday.and the basis (of the discussions) is the ending of the Israeli occupation. We will make every effort possible based on 242 and 338 and a solution for the refugees based on 194 (i.e. UN resolution regarding right of return).There can be no peace except based on an Israeli withdrawal to the June 4 1967 lines including holy Jerusalem. ” (PA Minister and chief negotiator Saeb Erikat, morning news)

Morning Headlines (from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m.)

  • “Four martyrs from Israeli attacks in the homeland, one of them from settlers’ bullets;
  • Strong clashes in Khan Yunis and Hebron, with occupation forces invading our sovereign territory;
  • His excellency President Yasser Arafat says two delegations-one Palestinian and one Israeli-will go to Washington to talk to the Administration about the peace process;
  • Call for greater cooperation between citizens and security forces;
  • Bush announces appointments of Rice, Gonzalez and Hughes;
  • Netanyahu Law goes from Knesset committee to Knesset today;
  • Works Ministry denies Israel has allowed workers into Green Line;
  • In the internal Israeli scene: will there be an Arab candidate for prime minister?”

Quotes from Interview with Saeb Erikat

“President Arafat told President Clinton yesterday. there is no avoiding putting an end to Israeli actions, Israeli closures, Israeli assassinations, the continuing Israeli blockade and lock-down. How can the Palestinian people say ‘let’s go ahead with consultations on the peace process’ while the assassination policy continues..

There can be no peace except based on an Israeli withdrawal to the June 4 1967 lines including holy Jerusalem. There are Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. There can be no compartmentalization of this matter. There has to be complete and undivided Palestinian sovereignty over Holy Jerusalem including the Old City, the holy sites and the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque.”

Intifada Versus Negotiations
Nabil ‘Amr, PA Parliamentary Affairs Minister

Q: “Can negotiations go on with the continuation of the Intifada?”

A: “We completely realize that the Palestinian negotiator has no serious leverage without the backing of a strong and popular movement struggling with blood for its basic rights for its basic goals on all levels. For this, everyone has to know that the Palestinian people has the right to carry out its national quest, to liberate itself from occupation and to build an independent state..These are our goals, and we cling to them. No national struggle can be prohibited or constrained from our people.”

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