Summary and Analysis

The Palestinian Authority is signaling the end of the Clinton era in the Middle East.

The PA has said thank you to Clinton, and now it will shop elsewhere.

“There is no escaping putting international pressure on Israel and the United States to stop these acts of terrorism and aggression against the Palestinian people,” asserted Farouk Qaddoumi, the director of the PLO’s political department in the main morning interview Wednesday. (Anyone who thinks the PA is going to roll back its demands for the Bush Administration should pay attention to the morning interview with Farouk Qaddoumi: the longest and the main item on the morning news.)

All the talk of Camp David, Sharm al-Sheikh and Presidential understandings is now being glossed with pronouncements about the failure or irrelevancy of various diplomatic/security efforts.

Instead, the PA is stressing activities in the inter-Arab and European arenas( in part, to collect on some of the promises of financial aid).

VOP was at great pains this morning to stress that no serious security cooperation is under way between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In its 7 am, 8am and 9 am broadcasts, VOP opened with a denial that any security personnel were present at the meeting yesterday between Yasser Arafat and Amnon Lipkin Shahak, the Israeli Minister of Tourism and former IDF Chief of staff and negotiator in talks with the PLO.

VOP is also covering the stepped-up efforts of the PA and the PLO in European capitals ( e.g. coverage of Feisal Husseini and Salim Za’anun), inter-Arab meetings (Arafat and Qaddoumi), at the UN and perhaps with the incoming Bush Administration.

Quotes of the Day

1.”There is no escaping putting international pressure on Israel and the United States to stop these acts of terrorism and aggression against the Palestinian people.” (Farouk Qaddoumi in morning interview, 7:15 am, see below for fuller text)

2. “These reservations are not going to change with respect to their core… on the subject of Jerusalem, the land, the settlements, refugees, borders and security. We will not cooperate with any initiative which hurts our rights. And I think it would be difficult to speak of a new initiative.” (Yasser Abd-Rabbo, PA Information Minister, in morning interview, 7:30)

Morning Headlines 7:00 a.m.

  • “Two martyrs from Dir al-Balah and Silat al-Zahar due to the continuing Israeli aggression and artillery attacks yesterday;
  • The two presidents-President Arafat and President Clinton-discuss events in a telephone conversation last night covering proposals and ideas;
  • Official sources tell the Voice of Palestine that the American peace coordinator Dennis Ross has cancelled his visit to the region and will not (merely) delay it as previously announced;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat heads to the Moroccan capital Rabat for discussion with the Moroccan monarch Muhammad VI and from there to Tunis for talks with Tunisian president Zaid Abdeen Ibn Ali in connection with the decisions of the Arab summit… ;
  • Official sources say that what Israeli Broadcasting reported regarding the meeting of President Yasser Arafat with Israeli Tourism Minister Amnon Shahak, with security officials attending, last night is inexact. The meeting included only President Arafat and Shahak;
  • PLO Executive member Feisal Husseini, responsible for the Jerusalem portfolio (in the PLO) is visiting the Swedish capital Stockholm to discuss with officials there the most recent regional developments;
  • Moscow calls on Washinton and London to stop bombing Iraq because it prevents any solution to the Iraqi crisis;
  • Linda Chavez, who appointed by President-elect George Bush as Secretary of Labor, has disengaged from the new administration.”

Headlines: Eight a.m. (additional or changed)

  • The martyring of the citizen Muhammad Abu Mreir Sid, 70 years old, from Dir al-Balah, yesterday… when fire was opened on him as he worked in the field farming;
  • His excellency President Yasser Arafat called President Clinton, sending him a detailed message early this morning on political developments since the meeting between the two presidents in the White House, and Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, the President’s spokesman, said the two presidents agreed on contacts that would take place in coming days;
  • On the other hand, an official source announced that the visit of the American peace coordinator Dennis Ross, that was supposed to take place tomorrow, has been cancelled, for keeps (Arabic: b’shaklin tam: in a final way);
  • Official sources say that what Israeli Broadcasting reported regarding the meeting of President Yasser Arafat with Israeli Tourism Minister Amnon Shahak, with security officials attending, last night is inexact. The meeting included only President Arafat and Shahak;
  • Artillery shellings and heavy weapons by occupation forces in Bab al-Zibabdeh in Jenin and Silwad near Ramallah and in southern Gaza;
  • Four wounded in Israeli shelling on Beit Hanoun in Gaza.”

Quotes from Interview with Farouk al Qaddoumi, director of PLO Political Department

“What we have in essence are meetings that continue (inside the context of the Arab summit) in Cairo and with the brother, the President Abu-Amar (Arafat) explaining to those assembled the political context and Palestinian perspective and the reservations we placed-the Palestinian delegation– on the proposals and ideas broached by President Clinton. And here there is no escaping the fact that we are starting to return to the decisions we took in the past to carry out the main decisions of the Arab summit conference, in the economic and fiscal, and public relations and political spheres.

And in relation to that, there is also no escaping demands for those assembled to (defray) high expenditures… there’s no question that Arab and Islamic cooperation is necessary for the carrying out of these political decisions in the international arena.

And especially in the Security Council, getting international protection for the Palestinian people….in stopping the siege (Israeli closure)… and the mass sanctions on the Palestinian people, and the sectioning-off of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These are the continuing attacks (on the Palestinians. And therefore, there is no escaping putting international pressure on Israel and the United States to stop these acts of terrorism and aggression against the Palestinian people-and to bring to justice these criminals on the Israeli side who carry out criminal operations and assassinations against persons within the Palestinian leadership….

Question: “What about the question of the refugees?”

Answer: “First of all if we go to a commission (to judge war criminals) that the source authority for such a question, the Palestinian question is international legitimacy (i.e. UN resolutions). We refuse any restraints or limitations the operations of any such authority that would give Israel the opportunity to maneuver in such a forum. The source as we have said is the United Nations in all its decisions in the General Assembly and the Security Council, resolution 194 that talks about the right of return for the refugees….There’s no getting away from it. Public and world opinion in this matter (realizes) that the question of Palestine is fundamentally, and before anything else, about the return of the refugees to their homes. Secondly, the carrying out of resolution 181 that calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state according to the Partition decision (i.e. a return to an Arab and a Jewish Palestine according to the 1947 partition decision). Also, there is no escaping that there be an assertion of the necessity that the Palestinian people have an independent Palestinian state possessing a sovereignty that has no other conditions placed upon it by Israel or by American proposals.

The American proposals now want to be called a declaration of principles. Well, that is refused. It would deal with things in a general way… That is why we refuse such a declaration of principles. We need specific details, clearly. We would prefer the initiative of the first President Bush (i.e. the guidelines to the Madrid Talks in 1991 to which the PLO was not invited but which did not state any specific limitations on UN resolutions) on not on a new declaration of principles.”

(In the remainder of the interview, Qaddoumi called for carrying out the establishment of a regular financial support fund for a continuing Intifada)

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