Summary and Analysis
The confusion and lack of clear direction at the top of the pyramid of power in the Palestinian Authority emerges clearly in the last two or three days of broadcasts of the Voice Of Palestine.
There has been no clear message from Yasser Arafat or his spokesman Nabil Abu Irdeineh (especially not in their own voices), and none from Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), the PLO Executive secretary and the man most closely associated with the “Oslo Accords.”
Rather, VOP listeners have been trying to glean indications from sometimes conflicting analyses coming from leading PA officials: Yasser Abd Rabbo, Saeb Erikat, Ahmad Qreia, Taib Abdel-Rahim.
It appears that internal opposition from the refugee constituency and the Islamic clerics-as well as objections from several Arab countries– have stiffened Arafat’s resistance to American ideas, even though there was significant initial willingness to give a “yes, but” response to them (in an effort to gain further concessions and not to appear intransigient). Even now, the PA does not want to appear to be saying a clear ‘NO’ to American ideas.
Instead, the PA reports that it is still studying them, even as VOP reports (accurately and fairly) that the Israeli government has given “a conditional yes response” to the Clinton formula, after a 10-2 cabinet vote with two abstentions.
Morning Headlines (8 a.m.)
- “Dr. Erikat asserts that the Leadership is awaiting clarifications of the Clinton ideas before responding to them in a final way;
- The Exectuive Committee (of the PLO), after deep study of the American ideas, asserts the core Palestinian principles;
- President Arafat states in a letter to Clinton expresses the Palestinian viewpoint on all the issues cast out (on the table);
- His Excellency (Arafat) will meet with the Egyptian President following the cancellation of the three-way summit;
- The American president carries out many contacts to some regional in connection with the peace process.”
Quotes of the Day
“The President’s (Arafat’s) advisor, Nabil Abu-Irdeineh stated that the president has sent a letter to President Clinton thanking him, on the part of the Palestinian Leadership, for the great efforts expended by Clinton.” (Morning News broadcast, VOP 8:00 a.m.)
“As of now, the American ideas do NOT meet the needs of international legitimacy.” (Saeb Erikat, 8:10 am, morning interview)
Interview with Saeb Erikat, chief PA negotiator
Q: “We asked Dr. Erikat if this was the final response to the American ideas?”
A: “As you know,the Palestinian Leadership is continuing the study of the American ideas in depth and conducting consultations with fraternal Arab states and friends around the world. We have demanded explanations and clarifications from the Americans side on all things. After all, what makes an agreement in the end is the details. That means the geographical elements, the deails of what happens to control over the land, that means various kinds of relations, that means territorial contiguity, what happens to water, that means security, Jerusalem…. We cannot just give a response to general ideas. We desire a comprehensive agreement on Jerusalem, the borders, settlements, the refugees and water. And that cannot be done without the details….Without clarity there can be no response. “
Q: “Then, the Palestinian response is not final.”
A: “The letter sent by President Arafat to President Clinton clarifies completely that for us the foundations of the peace process must be based on the foundations of the peace process which means that the American ideas at the present time do not meet the decisions of international legitimacy (i.e. UN resolutions 242, 338 and 181 and 194).
We have demanded clarifications based on the same clarifications built on details in the maps….President Arafat says in his letter that finding a basis for the peace process must be the execution of resolutions 242, 338 and 194.”
(Note: If Erikat’s remarks seem a bit confusing and repetitive in syntax and content, that is because they were. Many of his remarks-not offered here–were sentence fragments built on sentence fragments.)
- His Excellency President Yasser Arafat in Egypt for meeting with the Egyptian President about the American initiative Mubarrak;
- Dr. Saeb Erikat asserts we are awaiting American clarifications;
- Barak’s advisor says he (Barak) rejects Palestinian sovereignty over the Holy Shrine (Haram al-Sharif/ Temple Mount);
- Israel announces its conditional yes response to the American initiative.”