Calm in Ramallah debunks Al-Jazeera claims
Fatah officials voiced no criticism of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas or other senior PA figures. Far from it: Fatah leaders closed ranks to protect Abbas and launched a direct assault on Al Jazeera.
It was not so surprising that Ramallah was far from being in an uproar Monday. Despite the blatant attempt by Al Jazeera television to single-handedly foment revolt against the Palestinian Authority, there were no signs of a storm in the Palestinian street that has seen protest marches even against Yasser Arafat.
When Haaretz asked a group of youths standing at the entrance to Arab Bank for their responses to Al Jazeera's latest news they smiled uneasily and said they hadn't seen Sunday night's broadcast.
"All I want is a permit, a permit to work in Israel," one said.
Contrary to the picture painted by Al Jazeera, there was no earthquake here, not even tremors. Fatah officials voiced no criticism of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas or other senior PA figures. Far from it: Fatah leaders closed ranks to protect Abbas and launched a direct assault on Al Jazeera.
Even the Gaza-based senior Hamas official Ahmed Bahar admitted yesterday that the Al Jazeera report was "embarrassing" for the PA, but said it had not surprised him.
Fears of a "second Tunisia" seemed ridiculous yesterday, due not only to the apparent indifference of the Palestinian street but also in light of the complete control wielded by the Palestinian security forces.
Two passersby noted that while they were worried about Jerusalem in connection to the Al Jazeera report, they would not let anyone harm Abbas.
Some teens hung a banner at Ramallah's Manara Square reading "Al Jazeera is not Arab, Al Jazeera is Zionist."
An hour earlier the Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee, Yasser Abed Rabbo, told a press conference that he "thanked" the Emir of Qatar for the media assault against the PA.
Even viewers who do not consider themselves Fatah supporters agreed yesterday that the Qatar-based satellite television network crossed the line between professional, reliable reporting and a propaganda machine that serves its masters.
It is not a matter of the documents exposed by Al Jazeera, most of which appear to be authentic.
But the way the information was presented suggests that the media empire has taken it upon itself to challenge the PA senior leadership.
Palestinian security forces prevented a group of Palestinians from breaking into Al Jazeera's offices overlooking Manara square, but it was equally clear that this was not the spontaneous initiative of a few passersby.
None of the documents the station presented contained any information about the negotiations that was not already known by the Israeli and the Palestinian publics.
The sensitive issue of Israel sovereignty over parts of East Jerusalem had been discussed and agreed in the July 2000 Camp David talks.
As for security coordination between Israel and the PA, every Palestinian knows this to be a fact since the Hamas takeover in the Gaza Strip.