Analysis of the Palestinian Media

June 5 2005—Sunday

Palestinian television led its news broadcasts Sunday with the news that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas had issued a decree on Saturday (June 4) delaying the legislative elections indefinitely. Dr. Abbas, who heads the Fatah Movement, the PLO, as well as the Palestinian Authority (PA), said a decision on a day for the elections, originally set for July, would come after talks with HAMAS and others.

Both PA leader Abbas and Deputy PA Prime Minister Nabil Sha’ath indicated that Fatah was prepared to agree to having half the legislature chosen on a district level with the other half chosen on a proportional basis of at-large seats.

“The Hamas movement completely rejects the postponement of the elections, which is contrary to the Cairo Agreement,” asserted Sami Abu-Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman interviewed on PBC television. He refered to the agreements between Abbas, Hamas and Islamic Jihad regarding elections and a “cooling-off” period in attacking Israelis.

The Hamas spokesman said Abbas’s decision was based on internal Fatah difficulties, he hinted it was due to a Fatah desire to gain more time to get ready for the elections at a time when there are strong indications that Hamas may be stronger than Fatah believed.

“This came because of the internal situation inside Fatah, and it has nothing to do with national Palestinian considerations,” declared Abu-Zuhri.

But Fatah officials in the legislature echoed Abbas’s comments yesterday that the postponement was based on logistical difficulties in getting the election law passed-so that there would be at least two months between passage and voting.

“We just need more time to get through the bnecessary proceedings,” said Abdul-Karim Abu-Salah, chairman of the PA Legislature’s Legal Committee.

From Palestinian Newspapers:

Al-Ayyam led its coverage with news of the election postponement as well as a picture of Palestinian and foreign demonstrators pushing and shoving with Israeli soldiers in the village of Salfit, protesting Israeli fence-building operations.

Al-Quds showed an almost identical lay-out and coverage. It featured a picture of Israeli soldiers linking arms in front of flag-waving demonstrators (some with Hebrew banners) near the city of Nablus. This newspaper’s cartoon made fun of the election postponement, showing a man trying to hold back the hands of a clock.

A somewhat similar theme was shown in a cartoon in Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, where a member of the current legislature is seen dancing for joy at the thought of election delays.

Al-Hayat June 5, 2005
[see ]

Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda provided almost identical news coverage and pictures at the top of its front page, and its lead headline was “THE PRESIDENT DELAYS THE ELEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS UNTIL LEGAL PROCEDURES AND NATIONAL PROGRAMS ARE COMPLETED.”