Summary and Analysis

Christmas morning on the Voice of Palestine was marked by three key items:

  • Holiday comments of Latin Patriarch Michel Sabah;
  • Palestinian protest at the retention of “the bodies of two exalted martyrs” (including the man who set off a car-bomb in Mehola on Friday);
  • Continued calls by “nationalist and Islamic forces” to continue the intifada and for Palestinians to refuse to accept anything less than the full control of Jerusalem and the complete right of return for refugees.
  • VOP’s broadcasts were also unusual in two ways: the news was somewhat haltingly broadcast over the FM lines at 91.5 and then 103.4 with large dollops of classical music, Western-style Christmas-“Muzak” with heaping helpings of, believe it or not, jingle bells.

    In the evening hours of Dec. 24 and in the morning Dec. 25, VOP (which lost its AM-675 signal for unknown reasons) focused on the Israeli capture of 13 or 14 Fatah agents in the village of Asira al-Shamaliyya, referring to it as “another example of Israeli escalation”.

    VOP also featured lengthy quotations from interviews with and/or statements by negotiators Yasser Abd-Rabbo and Saeb Erikat, both of whom said deep differences remained with Israel. Erikat and PA leader Yasser Arafat also said Israeli press statements were designed to cause confusion (Arafat) and unrest (Erikat) among the Palestinians.

    Erikat said PA leaders were waiting for responses from other Arab leaders before formalizing a response to the talks in Washington.

    In a morning interview, PLO representative to Washington Hassan Abdel-Rahman said the proposals plan offered by PresIdent Bill Clinton were totally different from the earlier proposals at Camp David.

    VOP featured (and embellished) Israeli reports that the Israeli tourism industry has been significantly hurt by the Intifada.

    Christmas Morning Headlines

    • “Latin Patriarch Michel Sabah says Christians are full members of Palestinian society and deserve equal treatment and freedom: His comments came in the Mass at Bethelehm attended by His excellency President Yasser Arafat;
    • Pope John Paul II, in a letter to believers, expresses concern for dangerous situation in the Middle East, the status of the holy places-especially Bethlehem– and his concern about continued bloodshed in Holy Land;
    • Occupation forces continue to retain the bodies of two exalted martyrs who were martyred (as many as) four days ago: one of the martyrs exploded himself near the colony of Mehola which was built on our citizens’ land, as well as the body of Nejib Muhammad Abdo who was martyred four days ago;
    • Occupation forces extend their aggression in Gaza and Betunia;
    • In Dir al-Balah, occupation forces attacked populated houses with heavy artillery;
    • The nationalist and Islamic forces asserted that the unification and integration of Palestinian Jerusalem-its people and its land-is the basis of a just and lasting peace. And in a communique issued last night it said that any attempt at partial solutions undermines the principles of the (Palestinian) revolution: the right of return, the right of self-determination and the building of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital—(and such an attempt) is repudiated and declared null and void. And in its communque, the national and Islamic forces sent their congratulations to the people on the occasion of the Feast (‘Id al-Fitr, ending Ramadan)..and Christmas and the Christian New Year, for continuing the revolution,calling for visits to the (graves of) the martyrs and their families,in keeping with national solidarity and the continuing Al-Aqsa Intifada.
    • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat meets Egyptian President Husni Mubarak in Cairo today to discuss developments in the area as Israel continues its aggression against our people in the wake of the Palestinian-Israeli talks in Washington under American sponsorship;
    • The Israeli Bureau of Central Statistics said there was a sharp drop in Israeli tourism in recent months under the pressure of the blessed intifada of our people.”