Summary and Analysis
In the aftermath of the visit of Colin Powell, both the Palestinian Authority and Israel agree on one thing: there has been an escalation of organized physical violence and verbal exhortation and excusing of such violence. Indeed, the PA does not really bother to hide any longer that it is exhorting to violence-except that it DEFINES this as justifiable resistance. V.O.P. made no effort at hiding the fact that Arafat actually gave a pep talk to West Bank leaders urging continued “resistance” and “steadfastness.” When one or more of those leaders then emerges from the meeting and urges (or when V.O.P. announcer Samir Interr or Commentator Yousef al-Kazaaz exhorts) Palestinians not to fire on Israelis from inhabited Palestinian buildings, V.O.P. IS SAYING THAT these instructions on when and how to fire on Israelis came right from the top: from Arafat himself</>.
The Voice of Palestine has been featuring PA officials who condemn Israeli officials and officers for talking about Israel’s “liquidation policy”-what the PA calls “Israel’s assassination policy.” Officials such as Col. Tawfik al-Tirawi (PA West Bank General Intelligence chief) are threatening counter-assassinations, while West Bank Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti promises an endless intifada: they are among the regular main interviewees on the prime time news shows.
Contrary to the spin of some Israeli commentators, Barghouti is depicted on V.O.P. as a loyal disciple of Arafat. For example, in a local report from Rashid Hilal in Ramllah on February 27, correspondent Hilal describe Arafat’s call for continued “steadfastness” in confronting Israel. And then Hilal follows immediately with a soundbite from Barghouti (introduced as Fatah West Bank Secretary) saying:
“The representatives of Palestinian power at the meeting (in Ramallah with Arafat) expressed their happiness at this meeting with his excellency, after a long period-due to the circumstances, after a long cut-off. The Brother, the president (note: an affectionate reference to Arafat), after his meeting with Palestinian power representatives in the Gaza Strip told the meeting of the representatives of Palestinian Power at the meeting with his excellency the president that because of the circumstances that we all see that the national and Islamic forces are guardians of the Revolution. The representatives of power listened to his excellency’s explanation of the political and economic situation and the political developments and the subjects of the Intifada, stressing the steadfastness of our people and lauding the extraordinary steadfastness in the face of siege and aggression against our people, and the assassinations and so forth. (He) underlined that the Leadership is clinging to the national principles of the Palestinians and at the same time not forgetting the Palestinian negotiating conditions.” (see below for fuller text)
In addition to threatening interviews, V.O.P. is filling its news shows with lurid headlines of expanding Israeli atrocities-from poison gas attacks to cold blooded murder of children and their parents. V.O.P. and the PA’s top officials have been tying Ariel Sharon to this policy of “crimes against the Palestinian people,” (recent interviews with Taib Abd-al-Rahim, Ahmad Abd-al-Rahman, Hanan Ashrawi, Yasser Abed-Rabbo and Tawfik Tirawi, among others) even though Sharon has still not taken office.
Any and all Israeli military actions are described by V.O.P.’s announcers and local correspondents routinely as JARA’IM “crimes,” and Palestinian officials openly encourage the view that Israeli officials and officers are war criminals, guilty of crimes against humanity and subject to international judgment at a war crimes tribunal.
At the same time, V.O.P. has subtly but clearly changed its policy towards Israeli settlers over the last six weeks, but especially in the last few days. Settlers were, of course, never loved by the Palestinians, but there has been a marked change in recent days. While Israeli officials are “criminals” subject to international judgment, settlers are criminal subject to summary Palestinian judgment.
The PA has acted much like a sheriff in the old Wild West movies: putting a bounty on outlaws-except in this case the settlers have been defined as outlaws, as war criminals. Murdering them is an acceptable part of what the Palestinians called al-intifada al-silmiyya: “the peaceful intifada.”
When V.O.P. announces that a dead Israel came from or was killed near a particular settlement “built on land taken from ———— (the name of a Palestinian town or village)”, it is tantamount to saying “he got what he deserved.” V.O.P., however, does not bother to remove “guilt” from other “non-settler” Israelis killed during the Intifada. All Israeli deaths continue to be classified as either “occupation soldier” deaths or “settler” deaths, both of which are justified according to the ethos and lexicon of the Palestinian National Movement.
Important Personal Observation
As a general rule, when the PA escalates its rhetoric and allows or encourages more anti-Israeli violence, there is often an important “internal” Palestinian motive, such as growing criticism of PA corruption. one senses in the Barghouti interview below-despite its fawning references to Arafat-a feeling of growing dissatisfaction with PA performance of many basic functions. –Michael Widlanski
Tuesday Morning Round-up Headlines, February 27
- “The youth Hussam Imad al-Dis of Kalandia has joined the tribe of martyrs after being killed by shots to the chest by occupation soldiers;
- The United Nations says the siege imposed by the Occupation is the worst since 1967;
- The siege and the repressive Israeli measures as well as the ways to confront the aggression were the subject of the meeting between President Yasser Arafat and National Power Committee in Ramallah yesterday;
- The present crisis is fraught with danger but it is impossible to accept resuming Palestinian-Israeli talks except from the point they (the talks) reached and an end to Israeli measure and siege: that is what Ahmad Qreia the speaker of the Legislature says in an interview with us;
- The Israeli labor Party decides to join the Likud government. ;
- The European Union calls for an end to the Israeli siege and to immediately transfer funds to the (Palestinian) National Authority;
- UNRWA–the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (that administers refugee camps)-asserts the crisis’s danger to the refugees, and it calls for increasing assistance to them.”
Tuesday Morning Headlines, February 27, 7 a.m. / 8 a.m. / 9 a.m.
- “The martyring of the youth Hussam Imad-al-Din al-Disi, 15 years old, hit by bullets in the heart fired by one of the Occupation soldiers in one of the confrontations witnessed in the Kalandia Camp, at the northern entrance to Jerusalem;
- Six youths injured by Israeli occupation bullets in the town of Dir al-Nidam in the district of Ramallah and el-Bireh;
- Settlers attack the two youths Shadi al-Hufash and Wazim al-Hufash on their way to Salfit;
- Israeli occupation forces arrest two citizens-one in the Karameh crossing and one in Salfit;
- National Security Force base in Jalbalya Camp is subjected to bombardment by an Israeli Apache helicopter;
- His Excellency President Yasser Arafat receives members of the Sharm al-Sheikh arts group at his presidential headquarters in Ramallah.;
- Mr. Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, President Arafat’s advisor, denies that American Secretary of State Colin Powell set any conditions to President Yasser Arafat concerning resumption of Palestinian-Israeli talks;
- The United Nations in a decision says the lock-down of Palestinian territory for the last five months is the worst since the year 1967;
- Palestinian delegates to the European Union say the Union today will be sending a high-level mission to study the Palestinian financial situation;
- The Labor Party Center last night approved joining a government headed by Likud leader Ariel Sharon [Note: “extremist” not included in job title this time), and Home Rule Minister Saeb Erikat says this is an internal Israeli matter;
- European Union foreign minister urge sending funds to the National Authority.;
- Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal says after a meting with the American secretary of state that Saudi Arabia and the United States had agreed on a new look at the sanctions imposed on Iraq over the last ten years.”
Quote of the Day
“Our people will persevere and continue in its intifada, our resistance, until the end of Occupation and the carrying-out of freedom and independence.” From morning interview with Marwan Barghouti, Fatah secretary for West Bank-February 27, 7:23 a.m.
Quotes from Interview with Marwan Barghouti, PA West Bank Fatah secretary, interviewed by Rashid Hilal, V.O.P. Ramallah correspondent, February 27, 7:15-7:25
“The representatives of Palestinian power at the meeting (in Ramallah with Arafat) expressed their happiness at this meeting with his excellency, after a long period-due to the circumstances, after a long cut-off. The Brother, the president [note: an affectionate reference to Arafat), after his meeting with Palestinian power representatives in the Gaza Strip told the meeting of the representatives of Palestinian Power at the meeting with his excellency the president that because of the circumstances that we all see that the national and Islamic forces are guardians of the Revolution.
The representatives of power listened to his excellency’s explanation of the political and economic situation and the political developments and the subjects of the Intifada, stressing the steadfastness of our people and lauding the extraordinary steadfastness in the face of siege and aggression against our people, and the assassinations and so forth. (He) underlined that the Leadership is clinging to the national principles of the Palestinians and at the same time not forgetting the Palestinian negotiating conditions.
The other thing is that he (Arafat) listened in a complete way to the observations of the representatives of the power centers who spoke of the political situation and the negotiations and discussed their observations of the internal situation in the Palestinian National Authority. Also they presented to his excellency the president the need for unification of decisions for treatment of the compelling problems in the internal situation.due to a worsening in the internal Palestinian front. And everyone said we need Palestinian unity under the leadership of President Yasser Arafat.”
Question: “Israel is escalating its aggressive practices against our people, and recently this escalation has increased. How do you react to these arbitrary Israeli practices?”
Answer: “Israeli aggression continues.to try to pressure the performance of the Intifada which is registered in the hearts of the sons of our Palestinian people, in an attempt to thwart the path of history and fate. All this is an attempt. But we are not afraid of tanks and bombardments. And even if the fatal siege continues against our people, and no matter what the achievements of the assassination policy with which they threaten morning and night, and while they are continuing with these crimes, and imposing detentions and the like on the Palestinian people, well, our people will persevere and continue in its intifada, our resistance until the end of Occupation and the carrying-out of freedom and independence..”
Question: “What do you say about the official threats and the threats against his excellency the president?”
Answer: “Since the beginning of the aggression there have been threats and since the election of Sharon there has been an increase in threats among those who surround Sharon, really, from his advisors and from representatives of the settlers against the heads of the Intifada and against the leadership of the National Authority, first of all against the Brother, the president, Yasser Arafat. That is part of the operational environment of the Israelis.
And we say that these threats do not hurt our people. Our people is united, is unified behind its leadership and its (Palestinian National) Authority. And the National and Islamic forces as well as the institutions are not frightened by such threats. And through this we see The Rulers of Tel Aviv revealing themselves, and first among them Sharon.”
Quotes from Interview with Ahmad Qreia (a.k.a. Abu Ala), PA Legislature speaker
Question: “What do you make of the visit of Colin Powell?”
Answer: “I was not surprised, and no one was surprised by the sense of importance (given to the visit) by Mr. Powell. Even before his visit, he said he was coming to listen to the parties in the region before applying the American role in the region. And he listened seriously, I can say, with great interest, to the Palestinian position expressed to him by President Arafat in a clear way.. What the meaning of this violence and aggression is to our people. And this aggression has to stop.”
Answer: On the political question, he heard the Palestinian position clearly, a position based on international legitimacy, based on United nations resolutions and the Security Council-242 and 338 and the exchange of territory for peace. Also there was the stressing that any negotiations have to begin at the point where they left off.”
(Qreia seemed cautious in his interview not to attack the new Bush Administration, which, he said, had “a new working approach” and “a new style.”)