Summary and Analysis

There is a subtle but definite change in VOP coverage of the American- Palestinian-Israeli talks in Bolling Base in Washington. Although the reporting is very low-key, and although the PA repudiates reports of American initiatives (as did Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Musa in a VOP report Thursday), it is acknowledging that talks have begun to deal with “the heart of the issues.” In addition, Yasser Arafat’s spokesman, Nabil Abu-Rudeina said all issues were being discussed including “finding a just settlement for the refugees.”

The inclusion of the phrase “finding a just settlement for the refugees” since Wednesday night Dec. 20 and through the broadcasts this Friday Dec. 22 (rather than one of the standard phrases like “the right of return” or “the return of the refugees to their homes” may indicate one or more of several possibilities:

  • that the Palestinian and Israeli sides really are getting to a refugee formula;
  • that the Palestinian side is pleased with progress on the refugee issue, but is not yet ready sign, unless it gets domestic and inter-Arab backing;
  • or that the Palestinian Authority is tentatively sending up some kind of pale trial balloon or perhaps preparing its constituency for something less than a total and immediate return of refugees. VOP featured Yasser Arafat in a stake-out interview Thursday returning from Cairo (Wednesday), in which he said Israel was deliberately escalating violence in order to sabotage the peace process and to torpedo the efforts of Bill Clinton.

VOP also featured at length the comments of Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Musa who said “the flare-up of the intifada was the result of an accumulation of probems on the path to peace.that had not been overtaken, especially two important causes: the failed summit in Geneva between President Bill Clinton and the Syrian president Hafez al-Assad and the second the Camp David Summit.” (Note: This is an important commentary on the internal Arab dialectical thinking which goes contrary to the cutting edge of conventional wisdom, i.e. that Ariel Sharon provoked the Intifada with Sharon’s visit on September 28.)

VOP has been featuring news items and features discussing “acts of solidarity” by both Iraq and Iran with the Palestinian people, but it has pulled back from publishing stark Iraqi (and other) commentaries that have referred to American Secretary of State-designate Colin Powell as a war criminal along with the Gulf War as an act of aggression against Iraq.

VOP carried a long interview with hard-line PLO “Foreign Minister” Farouk Qaddoumi discussing an Iraqi fund of about one billion dollars to aid Palestinians.

The news programs opened Thursday and Friday again with the martyrs, their funerals and the circumstances of their deaths and other injuries, giving only modest mention to the death of a “Jewish settler” killed on the main northern route from Jerusalem via Modiin to Tel Aviv.

Thursday Morning Headlines Dec 21:

  • “Three martyrs in a wicked massacre in Gaza, with tens wounded, four seriously;
  • His excellency President Yasser Arafat says on his return from Cairo that Tel Aviv wants to destroy the peace process.;
  • Clinton holds a joint session for Erikat and Ben-Ami in the White House.:
  • Meretz votes down the candidacy of Shimon Peres for Prime Minister;
  • The United Nations recognizes the Palestinian right to sovereignty;
  • Moshe Katsav says Barak does not have madate for peace agreement;
  • The Legislature meets today to pass laws to aid workers hurt by Israeli siege;
  • Dr. Azmi Bashara will be with us to discuss the various options in the Israeli election.”

Quote of the Day

“Israel by its actions is trying to sabotage the peace process.” (Yasser Arafat, returning from Cairo Wednesday Dec. 20, quoted Wednesday evening and Thursday throughout the day)

Quotes from Interview with Ahmad Abdul-Rahman, PA Cabinet Secretary

“We will not accept any partial solutions–not on land, and not on international legitimacy, and not in the matter of the refugees and notin the matter of the Holy Jerusalem Shrine..There are many sides and many aspects to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, but the conflict on the ground is bloody because there is daily Israeli crime designed to shatter our steadfast desire, the desire of the Palestinian people. But we are steadfast. Our people is steadfast now for three months despite all the sacrifices it has made. And the other front is the negotiations. But in the Arab and international context there is a context to achieve an agreement to prevent a complete explosion which could involve other regions and other interests.”

Q: “There is talk that President Clinton will present a paper to the negotiators.”

A: “We have heard a lot about American ideas but we haven’t received an official American paper-not one from the American side.”

Interview with Dr. Amin Hadad, deputy director PA Central Bank, on the occasion of the closing of only Israeli bank operating in the Palestinian Authority under the terms of the Paris Accords signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (Thursday, Dec. 21, 7:50 am)

Q: “What did practices this bank carry out that you want to close it down completely?”

A: “Really, the most important violation is the refusal to accept Palestinian policy, with the Palestinian National Authority, working with the Palestinian National Authority and the liberated Palestinian lands, and (on the other hand) with identifying completely with the Zionist Entity (al-Kiyan al-Sihyouni).” (Note: the term the “Zionist entity” (al-kawn al-sihyouni or al kiyan al-sihyouni has rarely been used by PA officials in public since the Oslo Accords, especially not in broadcasts)

Song of the Day: “He is the Leader”

Here he is-he is the leader
Both Inside (in Palestine) and Out (the Diaspora)
His face is like the sun and the moon
And his name is Abu Amar
God grant him long life
God grant him long life

(Note: This song used to be a staple of PA radio and especially tv before the most recent Intifada/war, but has not been heard much recently on radio. A listener called in on a caller phone-in show, asking for it to be played. Friday, Dec 22, 10:30 AM)

Friday Morning Headlines-Dec 22: (8am, 9am, 10am)

  • “Three exalted martyrs to be brought to burial today: the citizen Ahmad Jamial Awad, 41 years old, from Khirbat Jebara, south of Tulkarm, martyred during anartilery shelling of a populated neighborhood, the youth Ahd Imri, 18 years old, from Shujaiyya Camp in Gaza, martyred when occupation bullets struck his head, and the third martyr is Rashid Barghoum, 25 years old from Rafah;
  • Heavy Israeli artillery attacks on Bitunia, Khan Yunis, Ramllah, Al-Bireh and Jenin.;
  • Since last night heavy Israeli patrols around Jerusalem’s entry points and inside Jerusalem in order to prevent worshipers from reaching Al Aqsa for last Friday prayers of Ramadan;
  • Heavy Israeli searches around vilage of Bir N idam near Ramallah where settlers’ car were fired on;
  • An Israeli settler was killed near the settlement of Givat Ze’ev, and Israeli radio says he died when his car was hit by gunfire;
  • His excellency President Yasser Arafat will meet today in his Gaza headquarters with the German Defense Minister Robert Sharbing and will discuss the continuing Israeli aggression against our people despite continuing international and Arab efforts to continue the peace process;
  • President Arafat’s spokesman Nabil Abu-Irdeina said there were precise American initiatives in the talks at Bolling Base between the Palestinian side and the American side and between the Israeli side and American side..”

Quote of the Day-Friday-Dec 22

“When the Zionist, this dog
Entered Al-Aqsa with his shoes
Protected by a squad of troops of war.
Muhammad will bring you low
Oh soldiers and oh dogs.
Oh you Zionist you are the West.

We will ask Allah to remove you dogs of the Whisperer (i.e. Satan)

(From “Mishwar al-Sabah”, popular call-in show, part of poem-Ode to the Intifada– read by listener Muhammad Fawah Hijawi of Qalqilya to the delight of radio announcer, 10:50 am, shortly before Friday’s Mosque prayers)