Summary and Analysis

Officials of the PA took a hard line during VOP broadcasts Saturday and Sunday, explicitly toughening negotiating positions publicly while also promising an intensification of para-military activities against Israelis.

Prominent hard-liners – e.g., Marwan Barghouti and Farouk Qaddoumi– were featured throughout the day on both Saturday and Sunday on different subjects, but always pushing the continuation of the “intifada” and offering a skeptical view of prospects for any deal with Israel. Barghouti specifically called for escalating attacks on Israel (see Barghouti Saturday interview below, day before Kahane deaths) and threatened reprisals (see Sunday remarks after Thabit death). Barghouti said the Fatah Movement would spur its operational activities for two weeks to mark the official founding of the Fatah (January 1, 1965).

The thrust of remarks by Qaddoumi and Saeb Erikat was that the Palestinian Authority was not being subjected to Arab pressure to accede to American ideas and that the PA would work through the upcoming Arab summit (now projected for Thursday) to achieve an Arab consensus on American ideas.

Sunday Morning Headlines-Dec. 31, 8:00 a.m.

  • “In the flurry of diplomatic activity, His Excellency President Yasser Arafat holds talks in the Tunisian capital today with the President of Tunisia Zaid Abdeen Ibn Ali, about the latest aggressions committed against the Palestinian people by Israel and also about the Palestinian view concerning the American ideas and opinions offered recently by the American Administration;
  • Dr. Saeb Erikat, Local Rule Minister, is in Amman today for talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdel-Hillal al-Khatib about the latest developments in the Palestinian lands and about the Palestinian view concerning American ideas and opinions; And Dr. Erikat told us in a statement this morning that the American Administration was requiring a response in principle to its ideas before responding to Palestinian questions regarding them. And Dr Erikat said that it was impossible to talk about fateful issues such as the refugees and Jerusalem and security and water and so forth in a pompous way, and that the Palestinian Authority was demanding the American administration clear responses on these matters..And Dr. Erikat denied that the Palestinian Authority had been subjected to pressures from any Arab parties..;
  • Mr. Farouk Qaddoumi, the head of the PLO Political Department asserts that the American ideas do not differ markedly from the ideas offered at Camp David;
  • Israeli broadcasts say this morning that one settler was killed not far from the settlement of Ofra built on our citizens’ lands, and one report from the French news agency says that the settler was Binyamin Ze’ev Kahane, son of the extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane;
  • Israeli occupation forces continued their aggression against the sons of our people in a variety of districts in the homeland, strengthening the closure on several cities, towns and (refugee) camps, involving 18 citizens in injuries in Gaza and Rafah.;
  • A special Papal representative from His Holiness Pope John Paul II will reach His Excellency President Yasser Arafat tomorrow..;
  • Iraqi Health Ministry Director Zuheir Sa’id announced the dispatch of an Iraqi medical team to Amman-the fourth of its kind– to help wounded from the Intifada in Jordanian hospitals.sent by direction of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to help those hurt in the Intifada;
  • Saudi Regent Prince Abdullah Ibb Abdel-Aziz said that it was incumbent to execute the dispatch of an international protection force for protecting the Palestinian people.;

Sunday Afternoon-1 p.m.
(headlines added or changed since the morning newsreel)

  • “The Palestinian Authority puts responsibility on Israel for the assassination Dr. Thabit Thabit, Fatah secretary in Tulkarm
  • Marwan Barghouti said the people would avenge the act of assassination.”

Saturday Morning Headlines, Dec. 30

  • “Masses in Gaza will accompany today the exalted martyr Mahmoud Ali Nseir, 26 years old, who was martyred when the security forces were subjected to Israeli artillery fire in the Beit Hanoun Crossing Point.;
  • The Leadership again renewed its demand to implement decisions of international legitimacy (i.e. resolutions 242, 338 and 194) in connection with the occupied Palestinian lands, saying we will cling to every grain of our land and to the right of return for the refugees to their homes. The Leadership, in a statement issued after its weekly meeting in Gaza last night, said there could be no solution whatsoever in which our people and our Leadership retreat under military pressure, forsaking in a humiliating way even one grain of our holy land, our Jerusalem and our holy places-Christian and Islamic. The Leadership declared that it clings completely to the right of return for the refugees to their homes and residences according to Resolution 194. The Leadership said it was patiently trying to get out of the present situation–replete with siege and aggression-in the negotiations…It said the Israeli positions were the same positions as in Camp David..The Leadership declared its willingness to enter serious and final talks under international aegis without a fixed and short timetable based on international legitimacy;
  • Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, President Yasser Arafat’s advisor, said the Palestinians would not accept any agreement that did not safeguard complete Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem and the holy Jerusalem Shrine (Haram al-Sharif);
  • The National and Islamic forces and units of the PLO expressed their confidence in President Yasser Arafat and the Leadership’s stance of refusal to the American proposals in their present form.It stressed the necessity of continuing the Intifada until occupation is defeated and independence flourishes.”

Interview with Fatah Secretary, Marwan Barghouti
7:45 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 30:

Q: “What is the stance of the Fatah movement regarding the American proposals?”

A: “It is a clear position which the Fatah movement has enunciated, and that is that any proposal, unless it is based on the core Palestinian principles, will not be accepted by the Fatah Movement..Any proposal and any agreement must be based on complete Palestinian Arab sovereignty on the city of Jerusalem and the Right of Return for the Palestinian refugees to their homes and residences according to Resolution 194, as well as the removal and termination of the settlements and the return to the June 4, 1967 borders. (Anything Else) will not be acceptable and refused conmpletely by the Palestinian people and not just by the Fatah Movement.

And in this sphere we are completely as one with the President, Yasser Arafat who expressed his complete refusal to the American proposals which are nothing but Israeli ideas.”

Q: “What do you say about Israeli statements refusing Palestinian sovereignty over Haram al-Sharif?”

A: “Barak is not serious when he talks about peace and about seeking agreement. The only thing that moves him is winning the election, and not (also: rather than) executing the peace process. The other thin is that the national rights of the Palestinians do not figure in his time frame-neither for Barak nor for anyone else (i.e. the other Israeli candidate). Therefore, we believe without Arab sovereignty not only over Al Aqsa but over the city of Jerusalem in its entirety as being part of the Palestinian Arab lands captured in ’67, there will be no success for any agreement or for any peace. And it would be wise for the rulers from Tel Aviv (i.e. the Israeli government) to understand the winds of history and the message of this Intifada and resign themselves to the firm rights of the Palestinian people. Without them there will be no peace, no security and no stability in this region.”

Q: “What is the future program of the Fatah Movement (on the occasion of its 36th anniversary)?”

A: “We during these days will commemorate and reinforce the martyrdom of the heroes of our movement, who struggled and strove in heroism, who fell in heroic operations, and we send our good health and greetings to the prisoners and to its Leadership and its commanders, its members, and its formations and to its wounded and to all its strivers and to all its institutions.above all to the Brother, the President, the Leader, Abu Amar (nickname of Arafat). And we are armed with our blessed intifada which will terminate the Israeli occupation. And the year 2001 will be the year of independence and the year of Return and the year of sovereignty..”

Q: “Any special programs or celebrations?”

A: “Fatah movement will celebrate in its own special way, in the way of struggle (i.e. operations), and there will operations that will be unleashed tomorrow, Sunday, the 31st, and a popular march through the communities of the Homeland in various towns, villages and cities..

And on the first of the first (January 1) all the Palestinian lands and prefectures will see military marches and demonstrations, and the coming two weeks will be days of escalation and Fatah rage against the Occupation.”

Coverage of Terror

The deaths of two Israelis-Binyamin Kahane and his wife-was covered quite differently than the death of Fatah Secretary in Tulkarm Thabit Thabit:

  • In the former, there was no mention made of the fact that an entire civilian family was attacked–father and mother killed, five children wounded, one gravely. VOP did not report the fact that the passengers were children ranging in age from two months to ten years. There was no condemnation of the attack. Rather, Kahane was called a settler from Ofra (incorrect) which VOP stressed was a settlement built on citizens’ lands (also incorrect, since Ofra was built on public state lands, not privately owned). In addition, VOP emphasized in several of its broadcasts that Binyamin Kahane was the sone of the “extremist rabbi” Meir Kahane (not mentioning that he, too, was murdered, by an Arab assassin in New York);
  • In the latter death, VOP carried PA condemnations of the “assassination policy” of Israel, not mentioning that Thabit Thabit, as Fatah secretary of Tulkarm, had had a strong hand in planning and executing attacks on Israeli settlers and civilian vehicles

Quotes from Interview with Ziad Abu-Ziad, PA Jerusalem Minister
Sunday (7:40 a.m.)

“The Wailing Wall-what is the Burak Wall-is part of the Al Aqsa Mosque. The American ideas are nothing but Israeli ideas. The American ideas are nothing but Israeli ideas in American cloaking. We are thinking not only of the Palestinians who are here now, but also the Palestinians who will be here in the future-the refugees.”