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BICOM Daily Briefing November 14 2003

Last updated: 2003-11-14

The Independent and the Financial Times both report that Ariel Sharon and Abu Ala are set to meet next week, although Haaretz speculates that there may be delays. The Guardian features a number of Israel-related articles, including a speech by BBC executive Roger Moseley referring to complaints about bias in coverage of Middle East issues. The Spectator features an article criticising the biased reporting of Independent Middle East Commentator Robert Fisk.  

Israeli newspapers Haaretz, Maariv and Yediot Aharonot all report on yesterday‘s meeting between US National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz. All three papers note Rice’s remarks expressing concerns about the security fence.

Quotes of the Day:

Secretary of State for Defence reiterates Britain’s support for Israel

Geoff Hoon, Secretary of State for Defence (13/11): “Sometimes I am not sure that everyone living outside of Israel today fully comprehends the situation on the ground. I am not sure that every outside observer fully understands what it must be like for ordinary Israelis to try to go about their ordinary every day lives – living with the constant threat of the suicide bomber. I can tell you that Israel’s desire for security is not something we in the British Government take for granted. That is why we are pressing the Palestinians to take urgent action against terrorism, to form a government that can take the long overdue steps to improve the security situation in the Occupied Territories.”

Geoff Hoon (13/11): “A strong stand against terror is essential. This includes not only terror organisations like al-Qaida or the Palestinian rejectionists, but also those who fund, harbour and support them. The recent prescription of Hamas and PIJ by the UK is, I hope, just one example of our determination.”

Geoff Hoon (13/11): “Supporting the friends of Israel is absolutely fundamental. It is about recognising the fundamental legitimacy of the State of Israel. There are still those who oppose the very existence of the State of Israel. It is depressing that all of us must constantly restate Israel’s right to exist, but we must continue to do so… Britain is, I believe, and as the Prime Minister said many times, Israel’s best friend in Europe.”

Colin Powell stands firm on Palestinian performance:

Adam Ereli, US State Department spokesman (13/11): "He made the point that performance is what counts and that the Palestinian Cabinet needs to declare its firm opposition to terror and to take tangible, immediate steps against terrorist organisations and that that's what we would be looking for."

Hamas denounces Geneva initiative as “marginal”:

Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas leader (13/11): "Our position is clear: all of Palestine. Every inch of Palestine belongs to the Muslims. Some marginal elements in the Palestinian Authority have begun trading with the Palestinian cause as they did in Oslo."

Behind the News:

US administration in talks with Israeli government over Security Fence:

US National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice met with Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz in Washington yesterday, where they discussed Israel’s security fence aimed at preventing Palestinian terrorists from entering Israel. There has been some speculation as to the possibility of the US Administration linking changes in the route of Israel’s security fence with the granting of loan guarantees. US officials have avoided making a clear statement on this matter.

Palestinian Centre for Public Opinion poll:

A poll carried out by the Palestinian Centre for Public Opinion shows that two-thirds of Palestinians would support a ceasefire with Israel. Palestinian opinion over the continuation of Intifada, however, is evenly split, with 42.6% supporting its continuation, and 44.5% calling for a halt. Just over half, (54.3%) support to various degrees the mutual contacts conducted recently between the two sides.

With regards to leadership, 72.3% support, Yasser Arafat, to varying degrees and 60.3% support Abu Ala as Palestinian Prime Minister.

Comment and Opinion:

David Pryce-Jones (The Spectator 14/11): “In the www arena where the world speaks invisibly to itself, a new word has appeared: ‘fisking’, meaning the selection of evidence solely in order to bolster preconceptions and prejudices. Just as cardigans or mackintoshes are named after an inventive individual, so fisking derives from the work of Robert Fisk, the Middle East correspondent of the Independent, stationed these many years in Beirut.”

“Most unforgivably, they are also friends of Israel. Fisk has fits at the very idea of that. All administrations in Washington are bad, but, in the first place, President Bush and his men belong to the ‘failed lunatic Right’ and in the second place they have fallen into the hands of the Jews. Advisers such as Kenneth Adelman ‘have not vouchsafed their own religion’, but together with ‘the Perles and the Wolfowitzes and the Cohens’ they are ‘very sinister people hovering around Bush’. The whole lot of them drive what Fisk calls ‘the American–Israeli war’. For fear that their own soldiers will be arrested for what they do in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States shuns the International Criminal Court. By my count, in the course of the past year Fisk has called Ariel Sharon a war criminal in no fewer than seven articles. In about 15 articles over the past year, he further assures us that the Iraq war is really all about oil. How that squares with American–Israeli conspiracy is not clear.

Fellow leftists by the million paddle about in this swamp of unreason. What makes Fisk conspicuous is his self-righteousness. The content and style of his writing proclaim that in his own eyes he is not really a reporter but the repository of truth. Other journalists are not up to their task; they are ‘nasty little puffed-up fantasy colonels’, warmongering collaborators of the wicked American–Israelis. He alone has the calling and the courage to reveal the evil rampant everywhere. Woe, woe, saith the preacher. Fisking is evangelical missionary work.”

Mitchell Symons (Daily Express 14/11): “But if you really want to know why the Palestinian people live in such appalling squalor, then look no further than this week’s revelation that Yasser Arafat has managed to squirrel away a staggering £1.8 billion. His wife gets £60,000 a month just for spending money.”

“But the one true obstacle in the Middle East is not Arab aggression or Israeli intransigence but Arafat’s greed”.

Marwan Bishara (International Herald Tribune, 14/11): “Treated cynically by Western and Arab leaders, and fought cruelly and arrogantly by its adversaries, no cause so just has been managed so badly by its representatives as the Palestinian struggle for self-determination has been. Unless the moral basis of the Palestinian tragedy is addressed, no pragmatism, no diplomatic acrobatics and certainly no force will resolve this conflict.”

“The Palestinian Authority is paralyzed, its leading figures preoccupied with the petty politics of who runs what.

Because of the authority's incapacity to lead, suicide bombing and foolish diplomacy are defining the Palestinian national agenda, without the consent of the Palestinian people. Killing innocent Israeli civilians alienates Israeli and Western public opinion and undermines the indispensable moral and ethical legitimacy of the Palestinian cause.”

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Israel Briefing supplied by BICOM