Summary and Analysis
The Voice of Palestine denied Israeli reports of progress in security talks held Wednesday night, and it reported extensively on Palestinian diplomatic efforts and public demonstrations to have Israeli leaders and officers “tried as war criminals.”
VOP specifically denied reports that Israel had agreed to allow a free flow of workers and goods by the end of the week. The VOP report said the Palestinian side-represented by negotiator and PA Home Rule Minister Saeb Erikat-demanded that Israel end its hostilities against the Palestinian people as well as withdrawing forces. VOP made no mention of Israel’s security demands, nor did it mention any Palestinian concessions.
Various Palestinian sources denied that there had been any overtures by the PA to Canada or vice versa regarding the settlement of Palestinian refugees in Canada.
In its morning news shows as well as its afternoon news panorama show, VOP said Israel had agreed only to a partial lifting of a small bit of the closure of Palestinian territories
The Palestinian Authority continues to hint-very broadly-that it is badly in need of donations from the Arab states.
The PA’s short honeymoon with Ariel Sharon is over. Once again this morning, in several news items, VOP called the Likud leader “the extremist Ariel Sharon,” and Arafat’s spokesman, Abu-Irdeineh criticized Sharon’s campaign speech comment that the Oslo process “is dead.”
It appears that Palestinian officials are also troubled by Sharon’s comments to the Habad newspaper (in which he noted his concessions were not trying to re-conquer Nablus and Jericho), and PA Minister Nabil Amr indicated that the PA might take an active voice in the Israeli elections. (see interview below)
VOP also had a feature this morning on an Arab-American-run “Intifada radio network” in the United States, with stations in Detroit, Chicago and Washington, among others. The network’s organizer, Hikmat al-‘Aini, said the network was trying to balance the pro-Israeli tilt in the American media, in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
9 a.m. Thursday Morning Headlines
- “The newspaper Al Hayat al-Jadida (the official PLO newspaper in the Palestinian territories) reports according to a Palestinian source that the Palestinian-Israeli meeting held last night was devoted to security, and the Israeli side refused to lift the closure on the Palestinian territories, but it agreed to open the transit crossings at Rafah, Karni and Karameh as well as the airport, along with opening the closure on Qalqilya, only.
- Ten citizens were wounded in a variety of ways in clashes yesterday with occupation forces throughout the homeland;
- His Excellency President Yasser Arafat will participate in the (Intifada) oversight committee of the Arab summit in the Tunisian capital, which began its deliberations yesterday;
- The President’s advisor, Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, said in a press statement in Marakesh (Morocco) that the National (Palestinian) Authority holds a dialogue with the Israeli government and not with political parties in Israel;
- Ariel Sharon, the candidate of the Right for the Prime Ministry in Israel, officially launched his election campaign last night with an assembly in occupied Jerusalem; [note: the Likud assembly took place in Western Jerusalem in Binyanei Ha-Ooma]. He said there would not be peace without concessions…”
7:00 a.m. / 8:00 a.m. Headlines
- “A ruling tomorrow in the case of five men accused of cooperation with the Occupation;
- The American Administration announces the delay -rather than the cancellation-of the Ross Visit;
- Abd-Rabbo calls for judging Barak and his ministers as war criminals;
- The Israeli response to the Clinton initiative demands complete control over bordcer crossings and Palestinian weapons;
- His Excellency President Yasser Arafat meets with King Muhammad VI in Marakesh and heads to Tunis and meets Ben-Ali and the members of the Arab summit oversight committee today;
- Nablus starts a campagin against illegal cars.
- Tens of citizens wounded in confrontations with occupation across homeland;
- Meeting last night in Beit Hanoun check post to discuss putting an end to Israeli aggression against our Palestinian people, involving Dr. Saeb Erikat, General Amin al-Hindi, Col. Muhammad Dahlan and Col. Jibril Rajoub and Col. Tawfik Tirawi, and on the Israeli side, Tourism Minister Amnon Shahak and Avi Dichter, the head of the Gneral Security Service, the Shabak.” (some of the 9AM headlines also appeared in 7am and 8am headlines, as well)
Quotes from Interview with Dr. Nabil Sha’ath, PA Minister of Economic Development and Cooperation
Question: “Can you tell us about the discussions in the oversight committee (of the Arab summit)?”
Answer: “Last night, the committee discussed recent developments, the nine states and the General Secretary of the Arab League, Dr. Esmat Abdel-Mejid (also Meguid) under the leadership of Egypt… listening to the report of
President Abu Amar (Arafat) the subjects that were discussed at the Arab summit only a small portion of which were executed…. Unfortunately, only a small part has been carried out, sponsorship, the call in Switzerland for international protection, for international observers. The billion dollars that have been promised of which only seven million dollars has arrived. All of that was discussed in a serious way…
Question: “What is the reason that these monies have not yet reached the (Palestinian) National Authority?”
Answer: “It has to do with the instructions that the sponsoring nations have given to the banks. It has to do with liquid cash funds available in these banks.
Question: “The Foreign Minister of Canada… says there are contacts to settle the refugees in Canada?”
Answer: “Absolutely not. The Canadian Prime Minister Chretien raised it during his last visit. This is not the time or the place. We are not studying any such initiatives unless Israel recognizes the right of return as a complete solution to the refugee problem. The question of the refugees rest on international legitimacy, resolution 194.”
Quotes from Interview with Nabil ‘Amr, PA Parliamentary Afairs Minister
Question: “Where are the negotiations (with Israel) standing now?”
Answer: “The negotiations are not going anywhere. The negotiations deal with political fluctuations. They are concentrating on the results of confrontations. They are being struck by the change in administrations in the United States. They are being struck by the election fever in Israel, and the election fever makes the political stance unstable because Israel is in this election fever….Also we see a linkage between the political situation and he security situation, and all of that is linked to the internal political situation inside Israel….
Question: “Ariel Sharon began his campaign yesterday and said Oslo cannot serve as the basis for peace. What in your opinion is Sharon’s idea of peace?”
Answer: “Sharon is trying to apply talking about peace. Sharon is trying to use the language of peace for a few days, and he is trying to demonstrate that he will concretize peace. He is sending various messages to the Arabs, speaking in several voices….All that, the strange thing about it is that it has no substantive connection to peace. The substance is that he says he will not return to Ramallah again, which for him is a concession and that he will not dismantle any settlements under any circumstances. And he says NO concessions in the Jordan (Ghor) Valley and Jerusalem and all these matters. In my view, this is illogical and even immoral….This will lead after a while to war and not to peace….
We will not stand still for something like that…. We remember that he brought us Sabra and Chatilla. We have to have a clear agenda….We are gathering information on Sharon and others beside Sharon, and it has to be clear, and (then) we will build a policy based on that.”