Palestinians slam Qatar, Al-Jazeera

2011-01-25 11:04

Ramallah - A senior Palestinian official condemned Qatar-based Al-Jazeera and a crowd of protesters vandalised the satellite channel's West Bank headquarters after it reported on leaked documents that claimed Palestinian leaders offered large concessions in peace talks with Israel in 2008.

Monday's angry outburst followed the airing late on Sunday night of what Al-Jazeera said were internal Palestinian documents showing that Palestinian leaders had offered broad concessions on two of the thorniest issues in negotiations with Israel: Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told reporters on Monday the news network engaged in "media games ... to trick and mislead the simple citizen". He angrily accused the Gulf state of Qatar, which bankrolls the station, of damaging Palestinian interests.

"What Al-Jazeera is doing today is an attempt to distort the national position of the Palestinian leadership," he said.

Abed Rabbo said the report relied on out-of-context quotes, insinuations and outright fabrications.

Comparing the programme to WikiLeaks, which he said merely publishes leaked documents, he said Al-Jazeera could "draw conclusions, counterfeit documents and change texts, cut a word here and there and put together images of people with no relationship to negotiations".

He added: "This is what serves Al-Jazeera's prior position."

Editorial freedom

He also took aim at the emir of Qatar, calling the programme "a political campaign of the first degree" coming from "a political decision at the highest level from our brother in Qatar".

The Qatari government bankrolled Al-Jazeera when it launched in 1996 and is believed to still fund the station.

Ultimate authority in Qatar - and at Al-Jazeera - rests with the hereditary emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. However, Al-Jazeera has long operated with considerable editorial freedom compared with other government-run media outlets in the Arab world.

The company is chaired by Sheik Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, a member of the emir's extended family.

While Abed Rabbo dismissed the documents in general, he remained vague in disputing some of the programme's specific claims.

He said the West Bank's Palestinian Authority would take no steps against local Al-Jazeera correspondents.

The Palestinians seek an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with a capital in east Jerusalem - all territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

Hamas welcomes claims

While Palestinian leaders have indicated some flexibility on borders and other issues, many Palestinians remain opposed to any concessions, believing that Israel has already taken too much land Palestinians consider theirs.

The show's claims were embraced by the rival Hamas, the Islamist movement that seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, leaving Abbas governing only in the West Bank. Hamas refuses all negotiation with Israel.

Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said on Monday the documents "reveal the close collaboration with (Israel), and reflects its role in trying to kill off the Palestinian cause".

Late on Monday in Ramallah, about 250 Abbas loyalists rallied in support of the president in front of the building housing the local Al-Jazeera office.

A small group climbed the stairs to the station's offices, where they broke security cameras, glass door panels and station logos. Wall graffiti read "Al-Jazeera are spies" and "Al-Jazeera equals Israel".

Palestinian police removed the violent protesters and prevented the larger crowed outside the building from entering.

This is not Al-Jazeera's first dustup with the Palestinian Authority.

It temporarily shut down the station's West Bank operations in 2009 after a talk show guest claimed that Abbas played a role in the 2004 death of Yasser Arafat, the former president and revered founder of the Palestinian national movement.

  • feppie - 2011-01-25 11:37

    This interpretation is pathetic. Why don't you take aim at those involved in the secret negotiations and the effects there off on the Palestinians and Israel! You paid for a report of an USA/ISRAELI agent, this is pushing an agenda! Report on the scrambling of those involved in the negotiations instead of the messenger! Report on those that's at the receiving end of the negotiations. Report on the Palestinian Papers! Go read the Papers and use your so-called journalistic skills! And you call yourself part of the media!! Get some real journalists!

  • Jean - 2011-01-25 11:48

    The Palestinians celebrate when there are leaks of other countries, especially Isreal, but why would only their leaks be false? Shows you what a bunch lying hypocrates they are. And old Tutu lies with them, none so blind as him who does not want to see.

      Fazil - 2011-01-25 12:56

      No Jean you are wrong...250 palestinians and their handlers are upset about the leaks...All others are not surprised at these leaks as they represent the scum of Palestinian society. I do not understand your criticism of Bishop Tutu...maybe you dont like Blacks that speak the truth?

  • jgillow7 - 2011-01-25 13:04

    On the head Fazil.The palestinian authority as in PLO are a bunch of scum.They all in there for the money and not for the people.Its about time the palestinians change there leaders.Hopefully by this leak the PLO support will be decreased.

  • jgillow7 - 2011-01-25 13:06

    As far tutu is concerned ,he know what it bis like to live under oppression and can distinguish what it is,can you do the same Jean?you were never chased out of your home because another nation claims that it is there land.Your wife never ever haad to give birth at a check point.get your head out of your ass my man.

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