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Arabic Media roundup – 30 December ‏2002

‏News from Al-Quds Newspaper

Palestinian Newspaper Indirectly Condones Attack

The Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds ran its Saturday headline on the murder in Otniel of four Israelis aged between 17 and 22. The headline stated “Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for (the attack) and the martyrdom of those who carried it out.”

This is a tacit endorsement of the attack. Martyrdom is a theme that the Palestinian leadership has exploited to maintain popular enthusiasm for this Intifada. Hundreds of youth have given their lives in suicide missions such as these. Although one of the attackers almost managed to escape, it was obvious to the assailants before they embarked on their mission that the chances of escaping alive were negligible.

Martyrdom is associated with heroism, glory and justice of cause. The fact that the headline focused on martyrdom, as opposed to the slaughter of four students and serious wounding of eight more who were doing kitchen duty during a Sabbath meal at a religious school, is indicative of the popular support for attacks such as these.

It should be pointed out that the attack took place near Hebron, in what the Palestinians regard as an illegal settlement. The school, known in Hebrew as a Yeshivah, is a large building, clearly visible from nearby Arab villages. The former Hebron commander, who was killed in another attack by Islamic Jihad, warned that the school could be a possible target.

Vocabulary is an important tool in this conflict. The difference between “assailant” or “attacker”, and “martyr”, is the difference between “murderer” and “national hero.”

Hunger and Poverty in Jenin

In a special interview Haider A-Rashid, the Governor of Jenin, is quoted as saying: “For the first time in the history of the city there is hunger and famine.” He laid the blame on the closure of the city and all its entrances and exits by the Israeli army.

Most economic sources indicate the Palestinian GDP has fallen by 80% since the start of the Intifada.

Cairo to Arrange Meeting for all Palestinian Factions

Nabil Sha’ath, one of Arafat’s closest aides and the Palestinian Minister of International Cooperation, announced that Egypt is organizing a meeting for all Palestinian factions to meet in Cairo.

Sha’ath has been devoting his energies over the last few weeks to reaching an agreement between all Palestinian factions. The Palestinian Authority (PA) desperately wants to present a united front in the struggle against Israel, especially since popular support for the PA has been eroded by support for rival groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Cairo is interested in such a meeting as a bid to strengthen the PA. Cairo fears the rise of Islamic militancy, and the power of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to topple the PA.

Russian Astrologer: Pyrrhic Victory in Iraq, Followed by NATO-Arab War

The Al-Quds newspaper reported on its front page a prediction by a Russian astrologer, Pavel Ghaluba, that the America-Iraq war will be followed by a war between the Arab world and NATO.

He described the Iraq war as the second stage in World War III, the first stage being the attack on the Twin Towers in New York.

The article finishes with the astrologer predicting the collapse of “American civilization” in the year 2006.

News from Al-Hayyat Al-Jadida Newspaper

Intifada will Not Stop

In its edition of Saturday 28 December, the Palestinian daily Al-Hayyat Al-Jadida quoted Khalid Mash’al, secretary of Hamas, as saying that talks with Fatah do not mean that the Intifada against Israel will stop. Hamas is facing immense pressure to come to an agreement with the PA “in the name of Palestinian unity.”

Egypt Slams Israel Over Comments on Syria and Iraq

Ahmad Mahir, the Egyptian Foreign Minister, strongly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon over his comments about Iraq transporting non-conventional weapons to Syria to be used in the event of an American attack on Iraq.

News from Al Manar Television

Member PA: Israel only understands violence and death

A member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Abd-A-Rahman Turk, said in an interview on Al-Manar television that the only way to challenge “Israeli criminality” is the path of the Intifada “until victory.” He referred to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as the “enemy criminal.”

He called for Palestinian unity and referred to Hamas and Islamic Jihad as “brothers.”

This is further evidence of the close contacts between the PA and Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Turk concluded that the only option open to the Palestinians is continuing the Intifada and conducting more operations against Israel. He claimed that Israel only understands violence and death.

Israel controls press, needs weapons inspections

Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League and a former Egyptian Foreign Minister, termed Israeli claims that Iraq is transporting weapons to Syria “an example of how the Zionists are controlling the press and are interfering with the Iraq situation.”

Moussa said that of all the countries in the world Israel is most in need of weapons inspections and poses the greatest regional threat.

Lebanese Conference: Palestine Arab Islamic Land, not Jewish; Canada Lambasted

Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt was interviewed on Al-Manar, a Lebanese satellite channel, at an annual meeting of various Lebanese and Palestinian political factions, declaring that “Palestine is Arab, Islamic land and will never be Jewish land.”

He also strongly condemned the Canadian government’s decision to declare Hizbullah a “terrorist group.” Canada recently added Hizbullah to its list of terror organizations.

Participants in the conference included the Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party, one of the main Lebanese political parties, Hizbullah and Palestinian factions.

Jumblatt went on to say that the Arab world now poses a strategic threat to the existence of Israel and he called for the continuation of violent struggle and a categorical refusal of normalization. He also called for the return of all Palestinian refugees.

When asked about improving the situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Jumblatt avoided the issue. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are not entitled to citizenship and are often treated as second-class citizens.

Jumblatt also declared that Israel’s claims that Syria has been receiving weapons from Iraq is an American attempt to undermine Syria.

Iranian–Russian Relations Improving

A new agreement paving the way for greater technological cooperation between Iran and Russia has been signed. Iranian ministers mentioned on Al-Manar television that America and Israel will object, but it is in the interest of both countries.