News



DATE=2/19/98
TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
NUMBER=5-39024
TITLE=PALESTINIANS/IRAQ
BYLINE=AL PESSIN
DATELINE=JERUSALEM
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY IS TRYING TO CRACK DOWN ON 
PRO-IRAQ AND ANTI-U-S DEMONSTRATIONS, WHICH HAVE BROKEN OUT 
ALMOST DAILY IN THE WEST BANK FOR MORE THAN A WEEK, INCLUDING ONE
ON THURSDAY (TODAY).  AMONG OTHER STEPS, THE AUTHORITY CLOSED 
SEVERAL PRIVATE TELEVISION AND RADIO STATIONS, WHOSE BROADCASTS 
SOME OFFICIALS SAID HAD BEEN INCITING THE PUBLIC.  V-O-A'S AL 
PESSIN REPORTS FROM JERUSALEM ON HOW THE GULF CRISIS IS AFFECTING
THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY, MEDIA AND PEOPLE.

TEXT:   ///DEMONSTRATION ACTUALITY -- ESTABLISH AND FADE UNDER///

IN DEMONSTRATIONS LIKE THIS ONE THROUGHOUT THE WEST BANK, 
PALESTINIANS HAVE BEEN CRITICIZING THE UNITED STATES AND CALLING 
ON IRAQI PRESIDENT SADDAM HUSSEIN TO FIRE MISSILES AT TEL AVIV.

THE SMALL DEMONSTRATIONS, MOSTLY BY YOUNG PEOPLE, HAVE PERSISTED 
IN SPITE OF A BAN IMPOSED LAST WEEK BY THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY.
THIS WEEK, THE AUTHORITY TOOK ADDITIONAL STEPS, ORDERING SEVERAL 
PRIVATE TELEVISION AND RADIO STATIONS TO LIMIT THEIR COVERAGE OF 
THE IRAQ ISSUE AND THE DEMONSTRATIONS.  //OPT// IT ALSO CLOSED AT
LEAST SIX TELEVISION STATIONS AND TWO RADIO STATIONS, AND IS 
REVIEWING THE LICENSING PAPERS OF MORE THAN 30 OTHERS.  THE 
AUTHORITY SAYS THE STATIONS HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO GO BACK ON THE 
AIR, PENDING THE PAPERWORK REVIEW. 

IN THE PAST, PRIVATE PALESTINIAN BROADCASTERS HAD GENERALLY BEEN 
ALLOWED TO OPERATE WITH OR WITHOUT THE PROPER LICENSES.  BUT NOW 
//END OPT// WALID AWAD OF THE PALESTINIAN INFORMATION MINISTRY 
SAYS TIGHTER REGULATION IS NEEDED.  MR. AWAD SAYS THERE IS SOME 
CONCERN IN THE AUTHORITY THAT BY REFLECTING -- AND PERHAPS 
MAGNIFYING -- PALESTINIAN SYMPATHY FOR IRAQ, THE PRIVATELY-OWNED 
STATIONS COULD BE DAMAGING WHAT HE CALLS THE PALESTINIAN NATIONAL
INTEREST. 

                      ///AWAD ACTUALITY///

         THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE NOW ... ARE IN A PEACE PROCESS 
         AND WE WANT TO HAVE RATIONAL THINKING PREVAILING AMONG 
         THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IN CHARGE SO THAT THINGS ARE NOT 
         PUSHED TOWARD EXTREMISM.  ON THE CONTRARY, WE WANT IT TO
         BE ON THE SIDE THAT IS PUSHING TOWARDS, IF YOU LIKE, 
         ACCOMMODATION AND PEACEFUL ATTITUDES, WHEREBY WE CAN 
         MOVE ON WITH THE PEACE PROCESS. //OPT// ... THIS IS THE 
         PALESTINIAN NATIONAL INTEREST AND IT IS THE 
         RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY TO PROTECT 
         THE NATIONAL INTEREST OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE IN THIS 
         DELICATE SITUATION. //END OPT//

                       ///END ACTUALITY///

MR. AWAD SAYS ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU USES ANY 
MILITANT STATEMENTS BY ANY PALESTINIANS -- SUCH AS THE 
DEMONSTRATORS' CALL FOR ATTACKS ON TEL AVIV -- TO HURT THE 
PALESTINIAN IMAGE WORLDWIDE, AND TO DELAY THE PEACE PROCESS.  
THOSE ARE TWO THINGS THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY WANTS TO AVOID.

//OPT// AT THE SAME TIME, MR. AWAD ADMITS THERE IS CONSIDERABLE 
SYMPATHY FOR IRAQ AMONG THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE.  HE SAYS THERE IS
AN ARAB SOLIDARITY ISSUE, AND HE SAYS PALESTINIANS SEE IRAQIS AS 
VICTIMS OF WHAT HE CALLS U-S ATROCITIES, JUST AS, HE SAYS, THE 
PALESTINIANS ARE VICTIMS OF ISRAELI ATROCITIES.  THE PALESTINIAN 
OFFICIAL ALSO SAYS PALESTINIANS FEEL "HURT" BY WHAT HE CALLS THE 
U-S DOUBLE STANDARD -- ALLOWING ISRAEL TO IGNORE PEACE AGREEMENTS
AND U-N RESOLUTIONS, WHILE SENDING ENORMOUS FIREPOWER AGAINST 
IRAQ TO ENFORCE OTHER U-N RESOLUTIONS.  //END OPT// 

MR. AWAD SAYS THE BROADER PALESTINIAN NATIONAL INTEREST MUST TAKE
PRECEDENCE OVER FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, PARTICULARLY THROUGH THE 
MEDIA.  THAT VIEWPOINT WORRIES DAOUD KHUTTAB, AN AWARD-WINNING 
PALESTINIAN JOURNALIST AND PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERATION OF 
INDEPENDENT PALESTINIAN BROADCASTERS. 

                     ///KHUTTAB ACTUALITY///

         I STILL DO BELIEVE THAT THERE IS AN OPPORTUNITY THAT HAS
         BEEN AWARDED TO PALESTINIANS TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES USING
         INDEPENDENT MEDIA.  BUT I THINK THAT THE SENSITIVITY OF 
         THE POLITICAL SITUATION, THE EMERGENCY-LIKE SITUATION 
         HAS GIVEN MORE POWER TO THE ANTI-DEMOCRATIC FORCES IN 
         THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY.  AND IT'S VERY DIFFICULT WHEN
         ISSUES OF WAR AND NATIONAL SECURITY GET INVOLVED THAT 
         YOU CAN REALLY TALK IN A REASONABLE (WAY).  SO I JUST 
         HOPE THE IRAQI CRISIS ENDS QUICKLY SO THAT PEOPLE WHO 
         USE THESE EXCUSES WILL NOT BE USING THAT AS AN EXCUSE TO
         STIFLE THE MEDIA. 

                       ///END ACTUALITY///

PALESTINIAN OFFICIAL WALID AWAD IS PROUD TO PROCLAIM THAT THERE 
IS MORE FREE MEDIA IN AREAS CONTROLLED BY THE AUTONOMY AUTHORITY 
THAN IN VIRTUALLY ANY ARAB COUNTRY, IN SPITE OF WHAT HE CALLS THE
PALESTINIANS' "DELICATE" POSITION.  HE SAYS THE BEST WAY TO 
PROTECT THAT FREEDOM IS TO LIMIT IT WHEN IT THREATENS BROADER 
PALESTINIAN INTERESTS.

BUT BROADCASTER DAOUD KHUTTAB HAS SEEN WHERE SUCH THINKING CAN 
LEAD.  HE WAS ARRESTED LAST MAY BECAUSE HIS TELEVISION STATION 
BROADCAST FREQUENT CRITICISM OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY.  THE 
CRITICISM WAS VOICED DURING SESSIONS OF THE PALESTINIAN 
LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL -- WHICH HE BROADCAST LIVE AS A PUBLIC 
SERVICE.  (SIGNED) 

NEB/AWP/PCF 

19-Feb-98 11:31 AM EST (1631 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.