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. He has also served as a special advisor to Israeli delegations to peace talks in 1991-1992 and as Strategic Affairs Advisor to the Ministry of Public Security, editing secret PLO Archives captured in Jerusalem.
As Israeli-Palestinian talks get started in Washington after last night’s terrorist murder of four Israelis near Hebron south of Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority referred to the attack as a “military operation” in its English language web site.
(http://english.wafa.ps/?action=detail&id=14713 ) and in its Arabic web sites and programs.
The official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that Palestinian leaders “condemned” what it called “the operation” because the PLO and the Palestinian Authority opposed “any acts against Palestinian or Israeli civilians.” (http://www1.wafa.ps/arabic/index.php?action=detail&id=84523 AND http://www1.wafa.ps/arabic/index.php?action=detail&id=84535 )
In essence, Palestinian leaders issued a limited and conditional warranty on the so-called peace process by issuing a limited official news report that was billed as a condemnation, when it really was not a condemnation.
The reports by the official PLO News Agency WAFA in Arabic and English, were more interesting for what they did NOT include:
· Neither the comments by Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad in Ramallah nor the comments by PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Washington (TWO SENTENCES ALTOGETHER AND WITHOUT A SINGLE QUOTE) called the terror attack “terror” or “an attack,” preferring to use the term “operation” (amaliyya ) and not “terror” (irhaab in Arabic) or “attack” (muhajama ).
· Neither statement condemned the perpetrators-the radical Islamic movement, Hamas-by name or as terrorists, but only said that the “operation” was “against Palestinian interests.”
· Neither man was quoted at length directly, as the news agency reported their comments as indirect summaries of their views.
Meanwhile, the Voice of Palestine radio station controlled by Abbas and Fayyad repeatedly referred to the four Israeli murder victims as “settlers from settlements built on Arab land.”
Chairman Abbas, who is considered a “moderate,” is very hesitant to condemn Hamas directly for shooting at Israelis, and five years ago made public statement in which he called on Hamas to unite with his Fatah organization, saying, “let our rifles, all our rifles be aimed at the occupation (i.e. Israel)”.
Abbas is in Washington, where he is meeting President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.