This item is for certain people, not my whole list. It was prepared jointly by myself and one of my pro-democracy Palestinian journalist contacts in Jerusalem (i.e. he is anti-Arafat and anti-terror).
As most of you know, AP is the worlds biggest news agency, and almost every TV station and newspaper in America (and many elsewhere) often repeat what AP say in their dispatches verbatim.
You are welcome to send on.
-- Tom Gross
In another piece of crucial misreporting from the Middle East, AP went out of their way to distort the wording of the Hamas/Islamic Jihad ceasefire declaration issued in Gaza on Sunday. The AP story (Item 1 below) says "Rantisi reiterated a list of demands although not preconditions for the suspension of attacks." But the text of the declaration clearly refers to "shurut" - conditions which Israel must fulfill. The Arabic text (Item 2 below) promises "Suspension of the military operations against the Zionist enemy for three months, effective today, in return for the following conditions" and provides a long list including lifting the siege on Arafat and releasing "all prisoners and detainees, Palestinian and Arab, from occupation prisons without condition or restriction." The declaration flatly warns that "In the event that the enemy does not heed these conditions and commitments, or breaches any of them, we see ourselves unencumbered by this initiative and we hold the enemy responsible for the consequences."
Attached below are:
1. Associated press story on the ceasefire declaration by Hamas and Islamic Jihad (June 29, 2003).
2. An unofficial translation by an Arabic language expert of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad declaration.
THE AP STORY ON THE CEASEFIRE
Palestinian militant groups approve deal to end violence
The Associated Press
June 29, 2003
The militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups announced a three-month suspension of attacks against Israel on Sunday effective immediately a breakthrough in attempts to end almost three years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting.
Israel expressed skepticism about the announcement. The announcement came as Israelis and Palestinians worked out details of an Israeli troop pullback in the Gaza Strip, a condition of the so-called road map to peace and a Palestinian state by 2005. Israeli reports said the pullback could start Sunday, while Palestinians said they expected it to begin Monday. The timing of the militants' truce declaration came as a surprise, after Palestinian officials said it would be delayed at least until Monday because of political infighting in Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, a partner in the three-way deal.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad apparently did not want to wait for Fatah to resolve its internal agreements. In response to the announcement, Fatah officials said they were still not ready to join the declaration. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a Hamas leader, read the truce announcement in a phone call to The Associated Press.
"The two movements (Hamas and Islamic Jihad) decided to suspend military operations against the Zionist enemy for three months, starting today," Rantisi said.
Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed al-Hindi confirmed that the truce took effect Sunday.
"This is a joint declaration between Islamic Jihad and Hamas and I think our brothers in Fatah are going to declare their position soon,'' al-Hindi told the AP.
Israeli officials said they fear the truce will be used by militants to regroup for more attacks against Israel. The government wants the Palestinian Authority to dismantle militant groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as required by the U.S.-backed road map to Mideast peace and Palestinian statehood by 2005.
"We are not holding our breath," Foreign Ministry spokesman Gideon Meir said. "We here in Israel fully support the road map, and we want it to be implemented chapter and verse."
Rantisi reiterated a list of demands although not preconditions for the suspension of attacks. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have said they want Israel to halt all military strikes, including targeted killings of wanted militants such as a recent attack on Rantisi.
The groups also want a release of Palestinian prisoners. "We consider ourselves free from this initiative if the Israeli enemy does not implement all the conditions," Rantisi said. The Fatah Central Committee met Sunday to try to defuse its crisis over the truce. Key members of the group led by Arafat and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas were upset at being kept out of negotiations. Talks with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the main political rivals of Fatah, were largely handled by Marwan Barghouti, a Fatah leader jailed by Israel. "It is impossible to recognize an agreement prepared by one person who is in prison,'' said Sakher Habash, a member of the Fatah Central Committee. Fatah members angered by the back-channel talks insisted Sunday that the introduction to the document be changed and that the U.S.-backed "road map" be mentioned, according to officials close to the dispute. Such an addition would be unacceptable to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which have rejected the plan.
Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Nabil Shaath said after the meeting that Fatah remained committed to the truce, but that factions might issue separate statements.
"If we cannot agree on one joint declaration by all the factions, then each faction will make a declaration using whatever political language they choose. The important thing is a commitment to the cease-fire," he said. It was not clear if Shaath's comments reflected the opinions of all committee members.
Sunday's renewed debate in the central committee came even though Fatah endorsed the truce declaration in principle Saturday, said Palestinian Parliament Speaker Ahmed Qureia, a committee member. Over the weekend, the three main groups held talks with 10 smaller factions on joining the truce. Most factions were expected to go along with the deal but none was part of the joint Hamas-Islamic Jihad announcement.
In one snag, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a radical PLO faction, told Palestinian officials Sunday that while it would not join a declaration, it would not violate a truce.
A Fatah-affiliated militia, the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, also said in a leaflet that it rejected the truce. The militia consists of several armed gangs, however, and it was unclear whether the statement reflected the majority. It is widely believed that the militia could be brought in line with pressure from Arafat and Barghouti. In Jerusalem, meanwhile, U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice held talks Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a day after meeting with Abbas. Rice is talking to both sides about implementation of the road map.
Israel Army Radio said Rice and Sharon discussed details of Israel's troop pullback and an easing of restrictions, including a release of Palestinian prisoners and the possible rebuilding of the Palestinians' international airport in southern Gaza. Israeli troops destroyed the runway in 2001. During Saturday's meeting, Rice invited Abbas to the White House in the coming days, and he accepted, a senior Palestinian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The White House did not immediately confirm the invitation.
Abbas would be the first Palestinian leader in three years at the White House. President Bush has boycotted Arafat, saying he is tainted by terror, while Sharon has met repeatedly with the president. Abed Rabbo said the Palestinians told Rice of the importance of getting Israel to halt attacks against militants and release prisoners, including Barghouti. "We told her that this would create a positive atmosphere to implement the road map,'' the cabinet minister said. Israeli media said troops could start pulling out of the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun as soon as Sunday night. However, Palestinian Brig. Gen. Abdel Razek Majaide, head of public security in the strip, said both sides first wanted to tour the areas in question, and the withdrawal would start Monday morning.
During the meeting, Israeli officials agreed to Palestinian demands for greater freedom of movement and the lifting of a travel ban on Palestinians under age 35, Majaide said. Israel will issue entry permits for 10,000 day laborers and 5,000 merchants, he said. Israel sealed crossing points from Palestinian territories at the start of fighting, nearly three years ago, preventing more than 100,000 Palestinians from reaching jobs inside Israel. The security deal, negotiated by Palestinian security chief Mohammed Dahlan and Israel's Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, came with an Israeli pledge to halt targeted killings of wanted Palestinians a key militant demand for continuing with a truce. Palestinians in turn agreed to act against what Israel calls "ticking bombs'' assailants on their way to attack Israelis. But Israel has reserved the right to go after assailants themselves if Palestinians do not.
STATEMENT OF INITIATIVE
An unofficial translation by an Arabic language expert of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad declaration
Out of our desire for the unity of the Palestinian ranks at this dangerous phase which our people and our cause are going through, and in order to protect our national unity achieved through the intifada and the resistance and documented by the blood of the martyrs, and as our contribution to consolidating Palestinian national dialogue on the basis of adherence to the rights of our people, and in order to protect our internal front from the danger of schism and confrontation, and in order to prevent the enemy from having any excuse to wreck it, and in an assertion of the legitimate right to resist the occupation as a strategic option until the end of the Zionist occupation of our homeland and until we achieve all our national rights, and in response to efforts by many in the Palestinian and Arab arena who care about the unity of the Palestinian national ranks, we declare the following initiative:
A. Suspension of the military operations against the Zionist enemy for three months, effective today, in return for the following conditions:
1. An immediate cessation of all forms of Zionist aggression against our Palestinian people including incursions, demolitions, closures and sieges on cities, villages and refugee camps. This includes the siege imposed on President Yasser Arafat, house demolitions, levelling of agricultural land and assaults against land, property and Christian and Islamic holy sites, especially the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque. In addition, the immediate cessation of all individual assassination operations, massacres, all arrests and deportations against our people, leaders, cadres and fighters.
2. The release of all prisoners and detainees, Palestinian and Arab, from occupation prisons without condition or restriction and the return to their homes first and foremost of those who have spent long periods and those with lengthy sentences, women, children, the sick and elderly.
B. In the event that the enemy does not heed these conditions and commitments, or breaches any of them, we see ourselves unencumbered by this initiative and we hold the enemy responsible for the consequences.
Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement)