Special Item – PA Announcement – Saturday Night, February 3, 2001 9:10 p.m.

“An official spokesman for the Ministry of Information announced that what has been published in the newspapers and in the media regarding what has been called “The Independence Group” (hayat al-istiqlal): The national Authority and its legal executive organs are not cognizant of what is called “The National Independence Group” and has not published any statements about such a group, and the aforementioned “group” is nothing more than a pretentious delusion.”

The announcement was a reference to a group being set up by Salim Za’anoun, the former speaker of the Palestinian National Congress (PNC), the PLO’s highest body. There was a short reference on VOP Thursday regarding the 100-member group’s establishment, along with publication of a petition calling for Yasser Arafat to share more decision-making power.

The PA announcement, which seemed to have been rushed to the anchorman’s desk in unfinished or partially illegible form, was read in a very halting way. But the PA statement-which was repeated Sunday morning– also said that many of the supposed members of the “group” had no knowledge of its existence and had not lent it any support. The announcement called on the “group” to cease operations and to abide by the PA “legal decisions.”

Saturday Evening Headlines – February 3, 2001 7 p.m.

  • The youth Abdullah Abu-Kirsh, 21 years old, was martyred, from wounds suffered five days ago;
  • Occupation troops continued their attacks against our citizens today, wounding seven of them in Hebron and Gaza;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat received in his Gaza headquarters the Turkish Consul General to Jerusalem, Hussein Adni;
  • His excellency the president also received the credentials of the new ambassadors of Australia and Qatar to the Palestinian Authority;
  • Minister of Home Rule Dr. Saeb Erikat says that the political program enunciated by Ariel Sharon is based on continued occupation of Jerusalem and the Ghor (Jordan) Valley.indicated a path to war and not to peace. Dr. Erikat made his comments in a meeting with ambassadors from Japan, Turkey, Romania, Norway and South Africa and the EU representative Miguel Moratinos, stressing that the only way to peace was basing it on international legitimacy. Erikat asserted that Israeli society must realize that there would never be regional stability without the return of the refugees to the homes from which they were evicted, as well an Israeli withdrawal to the June 1967 lines, first and foremost in Jerusalem;
  • Minister of Finance Muhammad Zuhdi Nashashibi called on the financial sponsoring Arab countries to transfer funds to the (Palestinian) National Authority, and he expressed his worry that funds promised at the Arab summit and the Islamic summit for support of the Intifada had NOT arrived;
  • Resigning Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak said there were secret unspecified contacts under way with Syria. His comments came in an interview with the weekly “Kul al-‘Arab” (Israeli Arab newspaper).;
  • The Secretary General of the Arab League Dr. Esmat Abdel-Mejid arrived in New York today. for talks with the United Nations about lifting the sanctions against Libya in the wake of the Lockerbie verdict last week.”

Quote of the Day

“Only hours remain until the Israeli elections, but there is no disagreement among the analysts and the politicians-whether Palestinian, Israeli or Arab-about who will win, because there is a big gap and Ariel Sharon, the rightist, the extremist, will win the contest for Israeli prime minister over resigning prime minister Ehud Barak.” (Lead-in to morning analysis, Khalid Sukar, 7:55 a.m.)

“Barak faces great likelihood of failure in the elections. To put it simply, the people do not like Barak.” (from analysis by Amjad al-Maliki, referring partly to Ma’ariv analysis by Hemi Shalev)


VOP gave great prominence Saturday night (not in headlines, but in news details) to a large Jordanian trade delegation arriving in Baghdad, Iraq. This follows many news items about Iraqi-Syrian trade ties in the last week, too. VOP is also giving great attention to Arab League efforts to have sanctions lifted against Libya.

VOP’s election coverage is going into high gear, with increasing attention being focused on the Islamic-led boycott of the election by Israeli Arabs (who are called “Arabs inside the Green Line” or ” “’48 Arabs” or “Palestinians from within”).

The appearance of Islamic movement leader Rai’d Salah on VOP Saturday along with the detailed reporting of the dismal predictions about Ehud Barak’s election performance illustrate one or two things:

  • That the PA does not believe its support to Barak would make any difference and that it does not want to waste its efforts on a loser;
  • And that it believes a tremendous number of Israeli Arabs will boycott the elections no matter what the PA says: therefore it does not want to be seen as having little influence over them.

Saeb Erikat and other PA officials continue to report that Sharon has little or nothing to offer the Palestinians, even as Barak makes motions about willingness to compromise on aspects of the refugee-return issue (see headlines below), but PA officials have lowered the volume and frequency of their anti-Sharon rhetoric.

Sunday February 4 — Morning Round-up Headlines

  • “A martyr yesterday joins the tribe of martyrs after being struck by bullet fire in the recent past;
  • The occupation authorities continue their aggression against citizens, shelling citizens’ houses in Rafah.intensifying the siege on Silwad and al-Bireh;
  • Thank God the rains continue in various parts of the homeland;
  • Official spokesman denies that the National Authority and its legal organs have cognizance of what is being called “the National Group”.(see opening item).”

Morning Headlines, 7 a.m. / 8 a.m. / 9 a.m.

  • “Thousands of our citizens will escort the youth Abdullah Abu-Kirsh, 21 years old, who was martyred yesterday, from wounds suffered earlier from bullet fire by occupation soldiers concentrated at the Mintar crossing in Gaza;
  • A youth whose identity is unknown was killed last night in southern Gaza when occupation troops opened fire on him;
  • Occupation forces tighten siege on Palestinian cities preventing Palestinian workers from reaching their jobs;
  • Occupation soldiers and settlers continue their aggression against our citizens and their possessions in Hebron, Gaza and Ramallah;
  • The town of Husan witnesses violent confrontations between occupation soldiers and citizens, who were fired upon with automatic fire;
  • Spokesman for the Ministry of Information asserts that what was published in some of the newspapers and media purporting to be “the Independence Group” is NOT known to the National Authority nor to any of its legal or executive organs. And the so-called “Independence Group” nothing more than a pretentious delusion;
  • Home Minister Dr. Saeb Erikat says that the political program expressed by Ariel Sharon concerning continued occupation of Jerusalem and the Ghor Valley and parts of the (West) Bank is not a plan for peace, but for war;
  • Resigning Prime Minister Ehud Barak says he wants to try to achieve a compromise solution to the return of the Palestinian refugees if he is returned as prime minister. But in an interview with the television of Abu Dhabi Barak reiterated his refusal for the refugees to a return to the homes from which they were expelled in 1948 but that he would try to reach a compromise solution to this matter;
  • About four thousand people demonstrate in occupied Jerusalem yesterday against the rightist Israeli candidate Ariel Sharon;
  • The Lebanese newspaper al-Mustaqbal reveals the negotiations on a prisoner exchange between Hizballah and Israel are at a critical stage;
  • Jordanian King Abdullah received a message last night from the Saudi king Khalid about strengthening bilateral relations and other developments in the region. and the Arab summit scheduled for Amman at the end of next month;
  • The Jordanian trade minister arrives in Baghdad today at the head of large trade delegation that will sign a trade agreement between the two countries.”

Quotations from Sunday Morning Interview with Zakariah al-Agha, member of the PLO Executive and Central Committee of Fatah, 7:40 a.m.

Question: “What were the main points discussed in last night’s Fatah Central Committee meeting?”

Answer: “It was a meeting held after a long period without meetings on current subjects, and the political discussion dealt in detail on the previous stage and the role of the Israeli elections which will take place in a few days in Israel and what is required of us to meet the new stage. It’s a new stage in its nature.and it requires a new Palestinian posture to confront the new (Israeli) stance.”


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