June 17, 2005

The official Palestinian Authority (PA) media has been giving small coverage to Palestinian-Israeli meetings (June 15/June16), describing the meetings sparingly [Sayid-Kaplinsky in Tel Aviv], occasionally positively (PBC Television June 15/16).

Reports on preparations for a summit between Mahmoud Abbas and Ariel Sharon have usually been sparse and buried at the bottom on the news shows.

There has apparently been no mention of Qassam rocket attacks on Israel in the PA broadcast media, nor any mention or condemnation of continuing activities of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but PBC television again aired an interview with Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri (Friday) on growing European ties with Hamas.

The main message of the PA media-given through statements of Foreign Minister Nasser Al-Qudwa and some spare comments from PLO Chairman Abbas-is that the PA insists on total Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian lands. [SEE Dahlan interview below]

The same point has been made in daily interviews on Voice of Palestine radio by Saeb ‘Arikat, the PLO’s chief negotiator and former PA minister. Al-Qudwa and ‘Arikat have been insisting on total release of Palestinian prisoners and Israel’s ceasing all proceedings against “wanted men.”

PBC television and Voice of Palestine (V.O.P.) radio aired segments of Abbas’s speech at the Doha conference ( aired Thursday and Friday) blaming Israel for Palestinian failures to achieve prosperity and democracy. [PBC showed long shots of friendly meetings between Abbas and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Shar’a, and it featured the Doha Conference criticism of American “pressure” on Syria.]

The Palestinian view of disengagement—PBC television – Muhammad Dahlan, PA minister, in charge of Gaza

In a lengthy statement on camera, Abbas’s point man in Gaza, Muhammad Dahlan, insisted that the PA regarded the Israeli disengagement as incomplete unless it included turning over port, airport and “safe route” facilities to the PA. “Mr. Dahlan said the Israeli withdrawal had the potential for success or for a catastrophe for the region in its entirety,” declared the PBC Anchorwoman [PBC June 16 EVENING].

Dahlan: “If this Israeli withdrawal includes all the elements we have spoken about with the international community, then the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank will head, rise up, I believe, to a new direction. And this means the Rafah Crossing, the transfer points between us and the West Bank, the Safe Passage Overland Route, Mina (port), the airport-all these essential elements. And if Israel agrees to these points, then there’s an opportunity for the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank for prosperity, development and a new way. But if Israel looks at the withdrawal as merely a redeployment of its forces, without giving us Mina, the airport, and without giving us freedom of movement to the West Bank, without letting us trade and exchange goods with the West Bank-not Israel-then that means that Israel wanted a redeployment in order to place Gaza under siege.”

Palestinian Television
–Deputy Palestinian Prime Minister Nabil Sha’ath: In a visit to Saudi Arabia, Mahmoud Abbas’s deputy announced June 15 that Saudi Arabia had agreed to furnish “secondary developmental materials” to PBC television. [It was not clear if this meant cultural and religious programming or money or both.] A few days earlier Sha’ath, who is also Minister of Information in the Abbas regime, publicly thanked Egypt for supplying programming and films to PBC. [Note: During the Arafat regime, many of the film montages and propaganda tapes were made in Egypt with Egyptian actors-MW.]

In its film montages, PBC television is beginning to go back to the use of sharp and short propaganda clips occasionally [reminiscent of the Arafat era] -such as a clip designed to boost physical confrontation with Israeli soldiers at the “racist bloody fence”-as the various Israeli barriers are commonly called in the PA media.

This film-a two-minute montage-is usually shown before or after the news programs, and it features shots of demonstrators pushing soldiers, striking with poles or throwing rocks. The camera holds on a close-up of a bit of grafitti painted on a wall: “Sharon Knows Only War”-written in English. Afterwards, Arabic words remain on the screen: “This Wall Shall Fall.”

Background Analysis

The continuing concern about internal Palestinian violence re-surfaced briefly in PBC and V.O.P. reports about PA Prime Minister Ahmad Qreia’s remarks at commencement ceremonies at Al-Najah University in Nablus. Qreia called for an end to “security anarchy.”

Items of this kind have appeared on the front pages of the newspapers, but they are generally at the bottom of the line-up on radio and tv. But this time, the clip on PBC television included several sharp remarks from Qreia, dressed in traditional university gown, in which he hinted broadly at resignation of his government.

“This state has no future with a continuation of anarchy,” Qreia concluded.