May 6-8, 2005


During the weekend, the Palestinian Authority (PA) media covered a variety of subjects ranging from last week’s local elections to this week’s overseas trip of Mahmoud Abbas to Brazil, Chile, Japan and China. The PA media and officials also returned to several themes that have been paramount in recent weeks:

  • to warn about “an invasion of Al-Aqsa mosque” by Jewish extremists Monday this week;
  • the sale of Greek Orthodox Church property inside Jerusalem’s Old City to Jews;
  • and Israel’s failure to meet Palestinian demands.

All the media covered the contribution of the United Arab Emirates to build a big housing complex in Gaza.

Hamas-PLO Relations

Palestinian television reported Sunday afternoon that Dr. Abbas would meet with Hamas’s leader, Khaled Mash’al in one of the capital on Abbas’s travel list. Earlier in the week, Al-Quds reported that Mash’al, who usually resides in Damascus, had made campaign appearances in Gaza, saying that HAMAS would only decide in a few months whether the “national interest” of the Palestinians called for it to keep observing a “lull” in fighting Israel or resumption of fighting.

From Palestinian Newspapers and Broadcasting

In Friday’s and Saturday’s newspapers, there was a strong stress on an apparent Fatah victory in the local elections. The Fatah-oriented Al-Ayyam on Saturday cited a huge victory over Hamas(Lead Headline: “Fatah 58%, Hamas 33%”), as did the Fatah-oriented Al-Hayat al-Jadeeda on Friday (“Fatah sweeps second round of elections”), while Al-Quds indicated that final results would be available Sunday.

Voice of Palestine radio headlined Saturday morning: “Fatah sweeps to victory while Hamas refuses to accept defeat.”

By Sunday, the tone in the news section of the Fatah papers and V.O.P. had changed. Sunday’s internet edition of Al-Hayat spoke of election results being delayed until Monday, and the issue was soft-pedaled on the front pages of both Fatah papers’ print editions, apparently because final results indicate Hamas did better than Fatah hoped.

In their cartoons, both Al-Quds and Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda treated the election process as a flowering plant that had to be carefully tended.

Al-Quds cartoon May 8, 2005

Saturday’s Al-Hayat spoke of an “Intifada” against Greek Orthodox clerics led by Ireneius I, who, the newspaper said, were seeking refuge under Israeli protection, after having sold property to Jews in Jerusalem near Jaffa Gate. Al-Quds took a similar line, suggesting the Greek Orthodox leadership was being deposed.

Voice of Palestine Radio featured strong anti-Israeli comments Sunday by PA Minister Kadoura Fares who said of the Israelis: “They have killed enough of our children and our old men.” He and PLO negotiator Saeb Arikat once again said that Israel was violating agreements to free all Palestinian prisoners and to withdraw from Palestinian cities. Also speaking on Sunday, Arikat returned to the theme that international pressure must be put on Israel in order to take away its control of the crossing from Egypt into Gaza. “They have turned Gaza into a big prison. That is what they want: to turn Gaza into a big prison.”

Palestinian Television: In the Friday May6 Gaza mosque speech on Palestinian television, the charismatic Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris, who last week repeated themes of jihad against infidels, was replaced by the more staid Sheikh Muhammad Ibrahim Abdul-Hamoud.

Report compiled by Michael Widlanski Associates.
Commissioned by the Center for Near East Policy Research.
[Permission to quote or reprint from article conditional on citing Michael Widlanski or Michael Widlanski Associates.]