PALESTINIAN REFUSAL TO DISARM GUNMEN IS LONG-TERM PA POLICY IGNORED BY
ISRAEL MEDIA AND POLITICIANS
By Michael Widlanski 12 June 2005
Official Palestinian Authority (PA) media stressed again Saturday and
Sunday that the PA stood behind the message of PA Foreign Minister Nasser
Al-Qudwa that the regime of Mahmoud Abbas, the successor to Yasser Arafat,
would not even try to disarm Palestinian gunmen for as long as "occupation"
""Deputy Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rebuked the Palestinian
Authority for refusing to seize the weapons of the Palestinian resistance,"
asserted Palestinian television Sunday [PBC 3-PM] in remarks that were
re-stated in other media controlled by the regime of Dr. Abbas.
Foreign Minister Dr. Nasser Al-Qudwa had asserted yesterday that the
Palestinian people was in a situation of defending itself, and the disarming
of Palestinian organizations was not in the offing," declared the PBC
anchorwoman, restating Al-Qudwa's original television interview.
Israeli reporters and Israeli politicians reacted with surprise and
anger Sunday after Dr. Al-Qudwa, the nephew of the late Arafat, told
Palestinian state television Friday night that the PA would not try to
disarm Hamas, Jihad or Fatah gunmen until Israel leaves "all Palestinian
lands," using a formula regularly employed by PA officials.
Voice of Palestine radio reiterated Al-Qudwa's message again late Sunday
afternoon in response to Deputy Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's angry
and surprised response that Al-Qudwa's position was "a ticking bomb" which
Israel could not accept. Olmert said Israel would have to disarm the
Palestinians, if not the PA.
"Dr. Al-Qudwa asserted that our people have the right to bear arms in
resistance for as long the occupation continues," VOP reported in its 4PM
broadcast Sunday (June 12), but this was hardly the first time that senior
PA officials have made similar remarks that were generally ignored by the
Israeli media and the Western press.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has told Arab newspapers, Palestinian
television and radio several times, since his selection to succeed Arafat,
that he was against disarming Palestinian militia members.
There have been numerous similar comments from top aides of Dr.
Abbas-Cabinet Secretary Ahmad Abdel-Rahman, Presidential Secretary Taeb
Abdel-Rahim and even Deputy Prime Minister Nabil Shaath, who made clear that
they favored disarming Palestinians using weapons against other
Palestinians but not against Israel.
"There is no such thing as a Palestinian-Palestinian conflict, but it is
important to enforce the law against anyone who has violated the law and
broken the cooling off period (tahdiyya)."
"It is not acceptable to play with the law and to threaten national
unity and national security."
Asked about the sovereignty of law, Dr. Sha'ath supported it, but he
added, "we distinguish between the rifle of the soldier and the rifle the
killer, and we distinguish between the rifle of the resister and the rifle
of the one who threatens people's rights..We want the cooling-off to
succeed. We do not want to give Israel excuses, and as you know they love
excuses. (PBC Television May 2, 2005-7:15 AM)
What prompted the angry and surprised response of Minister Olmert was
the fact that Al-Qudwa's comments [which came on PBC television Friday night
June 10 and were repeated on VOP radio and in at least one of the
Palestinian newspapers on Saturday June 11] were cited by Voice of Israel on
June 12, embarrassing Israeli officials who have contended that Abbas wants
to disarm terrorists.
But the tone and content of Al-Qudwa's remarks and Abbas policies are
hardly a secret, as any one who glances at Palestinian newspapers knows.
"HAMAS APPRECIATES THE STAND OF THE PALESTINIAN LEADERSHIP IN REFUSING
THE ISRAELI DEMAND TO SEIZE WEAPONS OF THE RESISTANCE," declared a page-one
headline in the Jerusalem Arabic daily Al-Quds on May 12, 2005. [See
"We will not slide down the path to civil war," Al-Quds quoted Abbas in
its lead front page story on May 14, where Abbas explained that he would not
seize or even try to seize Hamas weapons. There was almost identical
coverage in Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, a Fatah-run newspaper that is loyal to
Abbas, head of the Fatah Party.
REPORT COMPILED BY MICHAEL WIDLANSKI ASSOCIATES.
COMMISSIONED BY THE CENTER FOR NEAR EAST POLICY RESEARCH.
[Permission to quote or reprint from article conditional on citing Michael
Widlanski or Michael Widlanski Associates.]
Dr. Michael Widlanski is a specialist in Arab politics and communication
whose doctorate dealt with the Palestinian broadcast media. He is a former
reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times
,The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post.