Quote of the Day “We will not accept the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem being segmented and separated one from another with an Israeli region clucking (i.e. gloatingly controlling) over them and controlling them as cantons within an Israeli city.” (PA Minster of Information Yasser Abd-Rabbo, who accompanied Arafat to Washington, commenting on state of talks with Clinton Administration)

“The American stance is the child (i.e. product) of the Israeli stance. and Clinton’s path in recent days is the most Israel can or the Prime Minister of Israel wants to present.” (Palestinian analyst, Dr. Muhammad Muslih, lecturer at Columbia University and Long Island University, in featured VOP interview, morning news round-up)

Summary and Analysis Top officials in the PA told the Voice of Palestine that they were very unsatisfied with American proposals and expected Bill Clinton to bring their objections to Israel’s attention, while producing American maps with clearer indications of where the American formula leads.

VOP headline writers were eager not to show a “NO” in Palestinian responses to the United States, but also showed that PA has demanded that Clinton rework his ideas, while thanking him and at the same time doubting his ability to pull off a miracle by January 20.

VOP featured an interview with Columbia University lecturer Dr. Muhammad Muslih who said he thought the most Clinton could “attempt to achieve” was a vague framework in which the Palestinian Authority was convinced to accept some main points with the details left until after the Israeli elections.

“The American administration does not have the ability to present clarifications to Palestinian stipulations,” said Muslih, a Palestinian scholar living in New York.

Even before the two meetings yesterday, the PA through its broadcast arm-the VOP-was attempting to prepare the Palestinian people for less than complete success in meeting its demands. (see VOP commentary by Youssef Kazaz, below, and last three days of reports).

VOP was replete with reports and quotes from PA officials claiming that the Clinton ideas were Israeli proposals dressed up as American proposals.

The anti-American tone changed yesterday and today as Yasser Arafat’s advisor and other PA officials were quoted as saying that Clinton had promised to work through the last minutes up to the Bush Administration inauguration in bringing the Palestinian observations to Israel for more discussion.

But the military-intifada option has hardly been shelved.

Presidential Secretary Taib Abdel Rahim was quoted, beginning last evening on VOP, in a call to the Palestinian people to escalate its intifada, Abdel-Rahim’s remarks were aired throughout Wednesday morning and mid-day.

There was no PA condemnation and nary a VOP mention of the shooting incidents last night on the Jerusalem-Modiin highway-the third such incident in three weeks on the major highway.

Quotes from Interview with negotiator Yasser Abd Rabbo, PA Information Minister, 7:30 am, Wednesday morning news round-up

“There are core matters in the Palestinian cause that touch on the Palestinian future.and these clarification deal with Jerusalem, the holy places, the holy shrine (haram al-sharif), and it is impossible that we accept what the Israelis have offered and what appears in the American paper also, because the sovereignty of Israel from the war neighborhoods (apparently a reference to neighborhoods built after the ’67 war) of the city, actually from one end to the other (of Jerusalem) in effect controlling the heart of the city has no basis in truth from the religious point of view. There is some talk of a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem without us seeing the map. Well, we will not accept the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem being segmented and separated one from another with an Israeli region clucking (i.e. gloatingly controlling) over them and controlling them as cantons within an Israeli city.

We also need to see the maps regarding the West Bank and Gaza. That’s because the talk of 95-percent more or less, that kind of talk cannot lead to a result, because the subject is not appropriate, because the subject is land which has a future, and it is incumbent to deal with the issue of contiguity in the West Bank. And it is impossible to cut the West Bank into two parts or three parts which is what the Israelis are aiming at. And the issue of the refugees. Up to this moment there is nothing encouraging in the American paper on this matter. There is no right of return, no treatment of it, or anything close to it. Likewise the rights of the refugees in Lebanon who have priority in any treatment..”

Morning Headlines (7:00, 8:00):

  • “The Palestinian-American summit held in two stages, ends about two hours ago;
  • American President Bill Clinton promises to discuss the Palestinian observations about his thoughts on the peace process with the Israeli side before returning to the Palestinian side or continuing the discussion soon;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat leaves Washington in about an hour and will stop in Cairo where he will meet Egyptian president Muhammad Husni Mubarak, briefing him on the results of the Palestinian-American summit, and will then attend a conference under the aegis of the Arab League;
  • Presidential Secretary Taib Abdel-Rahim says the Clinton ideas will not be accepted if they are but a new version of what was proposed in Camp David, and Minister for Economic Cooperation Dr. Nabil Sha’ath thinks there is only a remote chance of agreement before the 20th of this month (inauguration date -ed.);
  • Even as the diplomatic arena is active, an Israeli military escalation in a variety of Palestinian prefects by occupation soldiers and gangs of settlers;
  • Occupation forces shell with artillery through the nightoccupied neighborhoods in Batuniya, Nablus, Hebron and prefects in Gaza and Dir-al-Balah, and the wicked shelling leads to several injuries among our citizens and damage to houses.;
  • Occupation forces close down all approaches to Gaza, effectively dividing it into four sections, separating them with tanks.;
  • Israelis assassinate citizen in Beit Lahiya;
  • Seven Israelis injured yesterday in shooting incidents yesterday, and Israeli sources say that three of the wounded are in serious condition.;
  • Resigning Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak threatened the outbreak (Arabic: threatened in active voice, outbreak in passive voice) of a war in the Middle East as the result of a failure to achieve peace, according to him, and he said the danger of war was greater than at any time in the last three years..”

Quotes from interview with Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, spokesman for Yasser Arafat, 7:10-7:20 am, Wednesday:

Question: “Did we meet with the clarifications we demanded from the American side?”

Answer: “In the meeting in Washington this morning between President Arafat and President Clinton all the Palestinian questions and clarifications were cast about so that the Palestinian side was raised in a long discussion about all questions in the final phase, especially the American proposals. As you know in a second meeting in the evening today between President Arafat and President Clinton to continue the discussion in a deep way on the American ideas, and the opinions and the clarifications from the Palestinian side.

The American president promised to transfer this picture to the Israeli side and the Israeli prime minister to consult with him (sic) about his role and his reaction to the American side especially to what President Arafat and the Palestinian delegation has said. The American efforts continue. We will probably get some answers in the next 24 hours.The process goes on. The questions to which President Arafat demanded an answer continue to be a matter to which it is premature to say that there have been results. Or the next 24 hours there will probably be developments with some of these questions..President Arafat will continue talking to the Americans and with our brother Arabs on the picture of these discussions and on the details. Efforts continue. The process continues to be difficult..The talks were serious and deep, but it is impossible to say that we have achieved final or clear-cut results.

The American president promised to continue his efforts with the Israeli side. And then to return to contact President Abu Amar one more time to inform him of the status of his talks with the Israeli side.”

Question: “Why should America give interpretations to proposal it itself has proposed?”

Answer: “The American side presented its formula for thoughts. We demanded clarifications on some of the understandings that are hinted at in these thoughts. It is expected that the American president will consult with the Israeli side to see its point of view on these thoughts. And these are the clarifications demanded by the Palestinian side.It’s a bit complicated. It will require some time for these efforts to continue. The results up to this minute are unknown. The next 24 hours will get some of the clarifications to some of the questions..”

Question: “Is the American side putting pressure on the Palestinian side or do they have more understanding now of the Palestinian position?”

Answer: “Well, the American side has its matters and its causes, and it has a special relationship with Israel. And one should not expect more than what one should expect from the American Administration.

We always demand a fair and just stand and a clear stand with the Israeli side, but we should not expect the United States to side against Israel and for the Palestinian side. But the attempts continue. The American efforts continue. The Palestinian and Arab consultations and contacts continue, but situation continues to be complicated and difficult.”

Question: “What about Israeli statements that there will be no Palestinian sovereignty on the haram.?”

Answer: “The American side knows completely the Palestinian stance. The Arab stance, and the international stance. There will never be peace without the establishment of an Palestinian state with holy Jerusalem as its capital, first of all its Islamic and Christian holy places with complete Palestinian sovereignty upon them..(The Israeli government has to understand that) the way to peace and the way to security is the way to an independent Palestinian state, the way to Jerusalem with Palestinian sovereignty over its holy places. That’s the way and that’s the solution.”

TUESDAY
Evening Headlines 9:00 p.m.:

  • “Artillery shelling continues in southern and northern Gaza as well as shelling in Hebron and Nablus;
  • Israeli military aggression causes about 20 wounded among citizenry as Israel strengthens its siege on prefectures throughout the homeland;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat meets President Bill Clinton in about half an hour;
  • The National Authority says Clinton’s ideas will not be accepted if they are (just) a new version of what was offered in Camp David;
  • Barak casts doubt on the ability to reach an agreement before the Israeli elections, as Israeli president calls for postponement of negotiations.”

SPECIAL MORNING COMMENTARY-TUESDAY JAN. 2 (YOUSSEF KAZAZ, SENIOR COMMENTATOR, VOP) “The summit in Washington starts today, and just half an hour ago we were called by President Arafat’s advisor Nabil Abu-Irdeineh to tell us that His Excellency (Arafat) desires a clear American decision from the American Administration and the American President Bill Clinton that holy Jerusalem will be the capital of the Palestinian state in all its neighborhoods and its Islamic and Christian holy places, according to international legitimacy. And we say to the American president that he must realize that since the Zionist Conference in Basil in 1897 the Jewishness of Jerusalem was not decided (i.e. was refuted or decided against).

Jewish Jerusalem is an Israeli invention to oppose peace and refuse the peace option.

And President Yasser Arafat wants a clear American decision from President Clinton-for the right of return for the sons of our people, the refugees, and quick American recognition for a Palestinian state, and a clear American decision to Israel to abolish the Israeli settlements..

The Palestinian-American summit is taking place even as the Israeli prime minister directs his war against us..Even as the Knesset legitimizes with new laws the prevention of our people from returning to their homeland, Palestine. But the laws of the Knesset do not interest the Palestinian people. It is not a holy law but only ink on a page..

THIRD
Quote of the Day

“The only thing I can tell you is that American efforts continue. The American president promised he would work up to the last minute of his presidency..But it’s difficult to expect quick results” (Nabil Abu-Irdeineh, describing the chances for President Clinton to achieve a Palestinian-Israeli agreement before the January 20 inauguration of George W. Bush as President of the United States. Morning Interview, 7:15 am)

Song of the Day (introducing morning news round-up, Wednesday): “The house is ours Jerusalem is ours With our hands With a little more force: Jerusalem” (Arabic: “Al bayt: hua lana Wa-alQuds la-na Wa-bi-aydi al-nas B’zeyadat al quwa-Al Quds”)

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