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Does the new PLO Entity Recognize Israel?

By David Bedein Israel Resource News Agency

At a staff meeting in September 1993,
our news agency, whose purpose it is to
provide continuing factual coverage for the
foreign media, made a policy decision: to
find out firsthand how the new Palestinian
Arab entity would view Israel, and to
determine if their recognition of Israel
would indeed be real. We raised funds to
hire Palestinian journalists and Arabic-
speaking Israelis. Over the past seven

We covered all of Arafat’s speeches, some of
which we filmed;

We monitored public statements of the PA;

We watched their new TV station and
listened to their new radio station;

We bought their new (revised) maps
and their new school textbooks;

We attended the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in (’94)

We made it our business to make timely visits to the UNRWA refugee camps;

We followed the PA’s new religious leaders and participated in Islamic-Jewish dialogue;

We visited PA military bases and interviewed PA security officials;

We covered the PNC meeting that met in special session to cancel the PLO Covenany.

Seven and a half years later, we can now answer the question of whether or not
the new PLO entity recognizes Israel, based on our hands-on coverage in each of the forgoing areas.

Arafat’s Speeches

The theme that Arafat has consistently preached throughout the past seven years revolves around the liberation of “all of Palestine”. When Arafat mentions his commitment to “the peace of the brave”, it is in terms of “the right of return” for five million Palestinian Arab refugees to flood Israel and to take over all of Jerusalem. He never mentions “East Jerusalem”.

Arafat has never made a statement to his people in the Arabic language that even hists at recognition of the State of Israel, nor has he ever asked for a cessation of terror.

In November 1996, I asked Arafat when he would ever speak in Arabic about recognizing Israel or denouncing terror. He replied that he does so all the time, to which I responded that we have no record of such. I asked Arafat the same question in November 1998 at a US State Department briefing as I held a thick booklet of his words in praise of terror, following the Wye Conference in 1998. His unfazed (unblinking, immediate) reply was that he “loved the Jews”.

Public Statements of the Palestinian Authority

We have subscribed to the provision papers of the Palestinian Authority since its inception in 1993, and followed the Fatah website since it was inaugurated in 1998. Seeing these reports, one prominent Israeli peace leader observed that what bothered him was not the themes of war that one might expect in the intermediate stages of a rock peave process, but rather that they were so entirely devoid of peaceful sentiments.

Palestinian Authority Radio and TV

Since its inception in the Fall of 1995,
we have followed PA radio and PA TV.
Indeed, a laboratory that monitors the PA
radio and TV – not connected with our
offic , e now opetates full time. Although
the air waves for both PA radio and TV
were provideq by the IDF and the initial
funds for the Pale~amjmr Broadcasting
Corporation came through (he US,
government and visiting UJA groups, the
official Palestinian Authority electronic
media regularly calls for Israel’s
destruction. theliberationof Palestine, and
praises terror. In 1997, 1 arranged for a
colleague in the peace movement to meet
with Radwan Abu Ayash, the head of PBC_
to ask Win why the official media of the PA
was devoid of any program for peace
Ayash responded that the Palestinian
people were not ready for any such


On the maps of the new Palestinian
state sold attire PLO headquarters at Orient
House in Jemsalem, the name “Israel” does
nor appear. The new Palestine replaces the
State of Israel. All 531 Arab villages that
were abandoned in 1948 am returned to
their locations within Israel proper while
hundreds of Jewish communities have been
ubliderated. The curinfittounsin imp of the
P.A. Minis” of Tourism, financed by – the
United Nations Development Program toy
Palestine, simply wipes Israel off the map
and shows all of the Old City of Jerusalem
I under PLO control, with no mention of
Israel whatsoever On May 15, 2000. out
agency brought Arafat spokesman Dr.
Walid Anall to speak. Amid said in Ws
deferse, “Well, you Israeli maps intake no
mention of Palestine” at which I whipped
out die new, Israel Ministry of Tourism
map, which clearly delineates the areas
under’ the control of the Palestinian


In September 2000, our agency bought
copies of the new schoolbooks of the
Palestinian Authority, and submitted them
for translation and evaluation by
professional agencies in Jerusalem. These
new schoolbooks were supposed to
recognize Israel. No such luck. The maps
and the curriculum portray all of Palestine
as one great Islamic state while tile old
school books that spaicifically instinct
school children in the art of “jillad” and
holy waarremaininthesclursolcurriculum.


At tile much-celebrated Nobel Peace
Prim ceremony in Oslo in December
(1994), 1 asked Yisisser Arafat if tills prim
meant that he would indeed crash the
Haritas and camel the PLO coverma. He
responded very matter-of-factly that he


One of the great hopes of the peace
process was that the new Palestinian entity
would absodi the Arab refugees who have
been held in the UNRWA camps for mom
than 50 years under the premise and
promise of the right of return to the 1948
homes that or longer exist. Our hands-rin
mporting for the Past seven years has
conveyed the opposite reality: the PA has
disenfranchised the UNRWA camps.
depriving the Arab refugees of millions of
dollars of health, education, welfare and
construction assistance, since the PA with
its ideology of the right or return does not
subscribe to the notion that Palestinian
Arab refugees should be repatriated to the
West Bank or to Gam. Iniagine the shock
that one of ray staffers experienced when
she witnessied a Palestinian doctor in an
UNRWA clinic refusing medical service to
Arab refugee patients oil the grounds that
they can go back to where they clone from –
which i s now the city of Ashkelon.


When Arafat appointed new clerics W
man the mosques under [its cortrol the
initial press reaction was hopeful -perMPS
this would provide , balance to the
preaching of terror by Hanours clerics.
Little did we know that tile Arafatappointed clerics ,,,old launch calls to
HHAD against the Jews with greater
ferocity, Asap.articipantinislanlic-JewisiI
dialogue, I was struck by tile dissonance
between tile genuine grass-roots
Palestinian Most,, interest in
reconciliation and tile incendialY mes~g”
they were receiving brain the Palestinian

The reason why Israel, tile US
weapons training for Arafat’s security
servi= was lined on the assumption that
Arafat would use his forces against the
Pinions. It was therefore surprising for us;
to report the PBC news item in May, 1995
that the PA was going to suppkv Harris
with weapons; and the At Ahamm
December, 1995 news item that reported a
PA-[Jamas military and tactical agreement,
Am, visit or interview with Palestinian
Authority security officials reveals that
tl~ir goal is to liberate all of Palestine,
despite any interim security clr~opcration


We dispatched a TV crew to cover the
historic nactinglifthel’alestimanNational
Council in April 1996, a meeting that-was
reported to have cancelled the PLO
covenant calling for Israel’s destruction.
The United States Congress had mandated
that Arafat would not be allowed into the
U.S. unless that covermit was cancelled.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk –
misinformed President Clinton when he
reported that Arafat had cancelled the
covenant Our video, which we sent to
Indyk and laterscreened in the Knessetand
the U.S. Congress, told quite another story
when it revealed that fix PNC laid, in fact,
merely voted to establish a committee to
CONSIDER amendments to tile PLO
covenand. In short, although the Israeli
government has used the past seven years
of a peace process to prepare the Israeli
people for peace, the PLO and its nascent
Palestinian Authority have oriented the
Palestinian Arab people to tile continued
non-recognition of Israel white preparing

The logical question would be whether
Ismel has made any significant changes in
its academic curriculum during this
negotiation process. Senior Hebrew
University Education Professor, Amos
Yovel, a founder of Peace New, was
commissioned by the Center for
Monitoring the ImpactofPcace to conduct
an exhaustive survey of Israeli
and to determine if Arabs arc being
demordwil inthe Israeli school curriculum
On burriary 8~ 700 1. Professor Yovel
presented his study of 200 Israeli
schoolbooks tIva he had culled from both
religious and secular Israeli schools. He
declared drd lie Will found no evidence of
racism or chanoummthm of Arabs in tile
curriculum that isbeingtought inthe Israeli
school system, and lie expressed
satrsfaction that the Israel educational
system was preparing a new generation of
Israeli Jewish students for peace and
reconciliation. (Studies of the pormiyal of
IsmelisinPA school books, andofArabs in
Israeli school books both appiair on tile
sannevicbsue: wwwedunreorg)

It takes two to dance the tango of
mutual recognition and reconciliation.

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