June 15, 2005

There is a sense of drift in the Palestinian Authority as reflected in a welter of mixed and contradictory messages in the Palestinian media:

On the one hand, Voice of Palestine opened its Wednesday morning broadcasts on an optimistic note-impending Palestinian-Israeli security agreements, including transfer of more territory to Palestinian Authority (PA) control, apparently including the city of Jenin. The V.O.P. radio reports follow yesterday’s newspaper stories concerning upcoming high-level Egyptian visits and diplomatic activity.

At the same time, PBC television has taken to running several minutes of film footage of Mahmoud Abbas in his meetings with local and foreign dignitaries-without sound overlay or with music-much the way it did during the Arafat regime, when the ultimate goal was regime reinforcement.

On the other hand Al-Hayat al-Jadeeda and Al-Quds reported Wednesday that Prime Minister Ahmad Qreia is basically threatening a government crisis-perhaps his resignation-if the “security chaos” continues, with various Palestinian groups using their weapons as they see fit.

On another note, V.O.P. radio reported that Israel arrested “the youth Sudqi Owdeh” a Palestinian who had been released by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas from jail in Jericho. Israel had opposed release of Owdeh, of al-Saida near Tulkarm, and another man, who Israel said were active members of an Islamic Jihad terror cell responsible for an attack on a Tel Aviv nightclub in February and for planning to carry out suicide attacks in Jerusalem two weeks ago. Elsewhere, V.O.P. accused Israeli soldiers of “haphazard and random fire” in an attack on Al-Dura in the Hebron region.

“Prime Minister Ahmad Qreia said the Palestinian Authority was making preparations.make sure the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza was positive and successful and would lead to Israeli withdrawal from all Palestinian lands.” (V.O.P., Wednesday morning news roundup-7/8 a.m. June 15.)

Voice of Palestine radio

Voice of Palestine’s senior anchorman, Nizar Al-Ghul read the following item as a kind of editorial immediately following the morning headlines:

“The military court at Ofer yesterday sentenced the Jerusalem youth Abdullah Adnan Yehya Shrabati, 24 years old, from the Wadi Joz neighborhood, to 23 prison terms at hard labor as well as a term of 35 years for a variety of operations against Israeli targets. The prisoner Sharabati was arrested on September 14 2003.regarding the operation against the number 2 bus in Jerusalem and for the operation in West Jerusalem against the number 14 bus in June 2003. The court also found that Sharabati was a member of Hamas in the Hebron area and that he directed and helped gain information for carrying out explosive operations against Israelis in crowded areas.”

[Note the same item read by the V.O.P. anchorman appeared as a small item on P 1 of Al-Quds, with continuation to jump page, p33.]

From Palestinian newspapers

Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda: QREIA THREATENDS SUSPENSION OF GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBLIES IF SECURITY TRANSGRESSION AND CLASHES CONTINUE Other Hayat Items: IDF Commander Halutz warns that Gaza withdrawal will cease if exposed to Palestinian fire [top of page picture] Abbas on visit to Doha

Al-Quds (lead item) also leads with Qreia threats, suggesting strong physical danger to PA leaders from Palestinians, Al-Quds also his comments added and different slant by adding sub-head where Qreia complains about not being able to visit Jerusalem [an apparent reference also to Israel]. This newspaper highlights Qreia’s hope that PA-Israel contacts will produce diplomatic progress.