Summary and Analysis

VOP returned Tuesday to very careful coverage of the Clinton proposals to the Palestinians and Israel in Washington. VOP is trying to navigate between the hard line of Abu Ala (PA Speaker Ahmad Qreia who largely dismissed the ideas) and the softer line of PLO representative in Washington Hassan Abdul-Rahman (who saw significant changes from Camp David).

The bottom line of Yasser Arafat’s spokesman, Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, was “yes, but” to the Clinton ideas. (His remarks followed-by about 10 hours-the TV interview of Ehud Barak in which the Israeli prime minister said thatIsrael would have a difficult time refusing Clinton’s ideas, if the ideas were accepted by Arafat.)

At the same time, VOP continues to feature quasi-legal commentaries on the importance of “the right of return” and its basis in UN resolutions 194 and 181.

VOP reported that the PA Leadership spent much of yesterday reviewing the negotiations and “continue to study American initiatives” for several hours again today.

VOP accused Israel of planning-with extremist settlers-provocative acts in Jerusalem, and it interviewed both Feisal Husseini (PLO Executive member, responsible for Jerusalem) and MK Muhammad Barakeh on what it said were strong rumors that Mayor Ehud Olmert would move his municipal offices to the Old City tomorrow. Husseini said the Palestinians were preparing for this possibility, and would respond with force to any attempt to change the “Arabness” of Jerusalem.

Elsewhere in the news programs, VOP featured Jerusalem Mufti Ikrema al-Sabry in a call to prayer and to visits to the burial plots of the martyrs and to visits to the martyrs’ families. There was also an interview with ‘Isa Karaka, representative of the Palestinian prisoners, who described the difficult conditions of the prisoners and detainees, especially during the holiday period.

Once again, VOP featured lengthy quotations from a Palestinian leader (this time, PA presidential secretary Ta’ib Abdel-Rahim) to the effect that the “Independence Intifada” (what has become the preferred name for what was once the Al Aqsa Intifada) was a planned program by the Palestinian leadership to achieve specific political goals. Abdel-Rahim’s remarks were first broadcast Monday afternoon and evening, but they were highlighted again-as the top-of-the-hour feature-Tuesday morning.

Tuesday Morning Headlines (7:30-9:00 a.m.)

  • “The Arab and Islamic world tomorrow celebrates Id-al-Fitr;
  • The Leadership wishes holiday greetings to all citizens;
  • Mufti Sheikh Ikrema al-Sabry calls for visits to martyrs and their families and the wounded during the Feast;
  • Feisal Husseini, holder of the Jerusalem portfolio (in the Palestinian cabinet) says our people will respond with force to any attempt by Israel to alter the Arab nature of Jerusalem;
  • Under the leadership of President Yasser Arafat, the High Committee on Negotiations will continue to study the American initiatives;
  • President Yasser Arafat’s advisor Nabil Abu-Irdeineh says that the American ideas are not sufficient;
  • Israeli occupation forces shell with artillery communities in Zababdeh, Nablus, Sinjil, and Turmous Aya, wounding 17 citizens, several of them seriously;
  • Presidential Secretary Taib Abdel-Rahim says the matter of an international force and compulsory implementation of agreements are the only way for the peace process to get out its rut.”

Quotes of the Day

“The Leadership has enough confidence in itself to say ‘no’ to any agreement which does not serve the national interest, but it also has enough confidence in itself and the people to say ‘yes’ if there is a real opportunity and a historical moment a just and comprehensive peace.” (From remarks of Presidential Secretary Taib Abdel Rahim, quoted this morning)

It is clear that the Israeli Right will take any provocation necessary to thwart the peace process.” (Israeli Arab MK Muhammad Barakeh, commenting on reports that Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert was planning to move his offices to the Old City tomorrow)

Interview with Yasser Abd-Rabbo (7:50-8:05am)

Q: “Is there beginning to appear an opinion among the Leadership on the American initiative?”

A: “Yes, we have received ideas from the American president. And these ideas merit deep and extensive study, but they need great examination, and it will be difficult in this short time period to reach final conclusions. As of now, we only have preliminary observations. Part of our initial perceptions is that some of these ideas were in Camp David and some of them replace things that were in Camp David. That’s why we have to consider what are really new ideas..we have to see what about these so-called ‘bridging proposals’ from Camp David. When I was in Washington last week, the Palestinian delegation made it clear that we could not return once again to the same point we were at in Camp David: especially in regards to the Shrine (Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount) and Jerusalem and regarding other matters such as settlements and the matter of the refugees.

In some of these matters there is new material, and some this serves Israel, especially, for example, the matter of security and the matter of the refugees where Israel wants the nullification of any rights for the Palestinian refugees… There is no balance in these things, and there has to be balance… We also noticed that there is a breach (also tr: transgression) on several main points on which the peace process is linked: the ideas of international legitimacy, Jerusalem and the matters of land and the settlements. Along with the idea of the Shrine there is the firming-up of the settlements around Jerusalem, that is from the West Bank, this ‘settlement Jerusalem’ would become part of Israel (i.e. parts of Jerusalem that were once Jordanian-controlled territory) that’s five or six percent of the homeland territory of the Palestinian people. We, really cannot accept something of this kind. We have said our discussion is based on the return to the June 4 1967lines, not on the existence of settlements or settlement belts built afterwards.”

Q: “Is there something new and positive in the American proposals?”

A: “There are some things that might make a new start, but there are a lot generalities which require clarification. For example, the use of international forces and the implementation of agreements..We need Israel to be required to carry out what it has agreed to..They have used every style of language to get around certain points (on the Haram al-Sharif/ Temple Mount shrine) such as ‘sovereignty on the land’ ‘sovereignty over the land’ for us and ‘sovereignty under the land’ for Israel. And so on. And on this matter, they want matters to go back to the beginning. We warned about this kind of thing…This is part of the Jerusalem problem. This is not part of Christmas gifts..This is five or six percent of the territory, territory of the homeland, which we consider part of our national homeland.

That is why I said it requires more study in the (PLO) Executive Committee, the Palestinian Institutions. There are also security elements to these questions. Also, these are questions that affect the region in its entirety. Such as Jerusalem and the refugees.We cannot accept a solution for the refugees that is not based on international legitimacy.”

Q: “Is it then fair to say that it is very difficult to accept the American ideas?”

A: “I want my words to be understood clearly..These proposals have some good points, but they also have a return to Camp David..That’s why we need more time to study inside the Palestinian institutions and for discussion with Arab parties and concerned parties. The subject is the final solution; the subject is an important regional issue.revolving around the issue of refugees, borders, security, Jerusalem..

The ending of the conflict, the ending of the conflict (he repeated for emphasis) must be based on a general agreement based on these ideas and principles, and every item of it must reach agreement, must be discussed and negotiated. With all these details. Is it possible to find an end to the conflict based on this?

After reaching these agreements, perhaps (can one) include the Arab countries such as fraternal Syria and Lebanon in a regional accord, in a comprehensive solution in which the sponsoring countries (i.e. those giving aid) can participate directly.”

Q: “So we need more time and discussion for a dialogue on the proposals.?”

A: No, it’s not just details.It’s bringing this to th einstitutions of the Palestine Liberation Organization..We need as I s a id deep and extensive study.because this is something that involves our national fate. This is one of the most important pieces of paper in our history. We have to discuss with our fraternal Arab states, because these ideas have regional ramifications, and we cannot surprise our Arab brothers-those close and far geographically-by accepting or not accepting ideas without a complete dialogue with them.”