Summary and Analysis

The last few days of VOP news and commentary have seen a kind of return to the pre-Intifada coverage at the Voice of Palestine: the news is built around Yasser Arafat, his trips and his statements.

This is in marked contrast to the news/commentary formula in use over the last three months: graphic reporting of martyrs, wounded, Israeli atrocities and calls for international intervention voiced by Arafat’s top ministers and advisors.

There are probably several reasons for the switch in tone and formula:

*-Lack of any significant diplomatic developments in the last few days;

  • A general drop in mass rioting and consequent casualties on the Palestinian side;
  • A general drop in Israeli military activity.

There may also be a reticence on the part of Arafat’s ministers to “carry the ball” for him in explaining his position to the Palestinian audience. That is perhaps why ministers/negotiators such as Saeb Erikat and Yasser Abd-Rabbo have been offering declarative positions that lack operative details, while ministers outside the actual talks, such as Nabil Sha’ath and PA Speaker Ahmad Qreia (Abu Ala) as well as PLO Executive Secretary Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) have staked out hard-line ideological stands or preferred not to be quoted prominently.

VOP quoted Arafat during his Oman (Muscat) trip, referring to remarks of Egyptian president Husni Mubarak that the question of Jerusalem was not just of importance to the Palestinians but also to all Arabs, Muslims and Christians-a sign that the Egyptians were supporting the firm Palestinian position on sovereignty over all of East Jerusalem, not just parts of it.

Despite speculation in the Israeli press concerning Clinton’s desire to convene an international conference on the Palestinian-Israeli talks in the last days of his Administration, VOP is reporting (though not as its lead item) that Clinton will issue a presidential statement instead.

VOP gave great prominence to the statements of Ra’id Salah, the Mayor of Um al-Fahem in Israel, and the leader of the extreme northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel (SEE
Quote of the Day). Mayor Salah, who has spearheaded the Islamic building programs on the Temple Mount, warned of Jewish extremists who would try to destroy Islamic holy places, particularly a plot to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque.

THIS USE OF THE EXTREMELY INCENDIARY ISLAMIC CHARGES ABOUT PLOTS TO DESTROY THE AL AQSA MOSQUE-AS WELL AS THE PROMINENT ATTENTION GIVEN TO SADDAM HUSSEIN’S CALLS TO CONTINUE TO CONFRONT ISRAEL MILITARILY DO NOT BESPEAK ANY ATTEMPT ON THE PART OF THE PA TO DAMPEN VIOLENCE.

MUHAMMAD DAHLAN AND THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM

Gaza Security chief Muhammad Dahlan, said in an interview that if Israel hoped to return the security situation to what it was before September 28, it was, in effect trying “to dream the impossible dream.”

(SEE INTERVIEW BELOW)

SUNDAY
Morning Headlines-JAN. 7 7:00 AM/8:00 AM

  • “His Excellency President Yasser Arafat participates in midnight mass at Church of the Nativity marking Orthodox Christmas;
  • His Excellency will meet in Amman today with the Jordanian monarch, King Abdullah….
  • His Excellency said on his departure yesterday from Muscat that he hoped Clinton would achieve his promise of agreement before his term ended but that he was ready to meet President-elect George Bush Junior, God-willing (note: VOP does not get into the genealogy of George W. vs. George P. etc)
  • President Bill Clinton will deliver a statement in two days on the Palestinian-Israeli matter, detailing the efforts and the initiatives taken recently
  • Palestinian-Egyptian-Israeli meeting in Cairo today, and the Palestinian side says its demand will concentrate on an end to Israeli aggression immediately
  • Occupation forces shell a military camp (Palestinian) and the Presidential security forces near Salfit…
  • Col. Muhammad Dahlan, head of security in Gaza prefect, says that a Palestinian security delegation will participate in talks today with the Israeli side in Cairo along with the attendance of American and Egyptian officials, and he said the purpose of going to such meetings was putting an end to Israeli practices and attacks carried out by Israel
  • The National and Islamic forces call on the masses of our people tlo commemorate today “The Day of the Martyr” by visits to their graves and to their families, and they (the forces) announce that tomorrow, Monday, is “The Day of the Right of Return” on which our masses are urged to express our complete national consensus with the right of return of the refugees to their homes from which they were expelled in 1948
  • Iraqi President Saddam Hussein salutes the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, in a speech marking the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Iraqi armed forces, saluting their Palestinian steadfastness in confronting the Israeli war machine until they (the Palestinians) realize their national goals.”

Quote of the Day

“The leader of the Islamic movement inside the Green Line and the Mayor of Um al-Fahem (Ra’id Salah) warned of dangers from Israeli sources to introduce archtectural pressures that would threaten the foundations of the Al Aqsa Mosque….He said there were 25 Jewish groups specializing in operations to destroy the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque, from among 120 Jewish groups that strive to return the alleged Temple to the place of Al Aqsa.” (Morning news report, January 7, 7:35 AM)

Quotes from Morning Interview with Muhammad Dahlan, PA Gaza Security Chief:

Question: “There’s a meeting of Palestinian and Israeli security officials today in Cairo…who called for the meeting?”

Answer: “First of all, Israel always says the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people-they are the ones who besiege Tel Aviv and who use violence against the Israeli people, and, first of all, that’s not true. The aggression is being aimed against the Palestinian people or three months. They have used a variety of (military)means against us, not skipping even one means of aggression against our Palestinian people-children, women, old men and even trees and rocks, and even attacking helpless animals….Well, according to President Clinton’s statement in Sharm al-Sheikh, the Israelis are required first of all to lift the siege on the Palestinian people, on the villages and the cities, the roads and the international terminals. And the (Palestinian) Authority has other obligations. But since that date, Israel has only increased its siege, increased its violence, increased the assassinations and policy of aggression against the Palestinian people.

The purpose of these meetings is to carry out what President Clinton, but if Israel thinks the purpose of going to Cairo, under the cover of this siege, is to impose the conditions of Israel, then it is mistaken.

We have an agenda. We have demands-many demands, and they have to carry out their obligations to the Palestinian Authority.”

Question: “There are some who think the purpose of the meeting is to return to the situation that existed on September 28?”

Answer: “If the Israeli translation of such an expression is to return to what existed before, then that’s an unobtainable dream.”

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