“Someone who deeply believes in peace with Israel, who is against violence.”
US Middle East expert Dennis Ross on Qurei
"The leadership that threw stones is ready to return and use stones to free the people and the land." (The New York Times, December 3, 1998)
"...Either [we achieve] a just peace that will guarantee the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people, including [the] Return, self determination, and the establishment of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital - or there will be no peace, but a return to the struggle in all its forms." (On a visit to China, Al-Ayyam, September 24 1999)
A senior aide to Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Ahmed Qurei was arrested Monday by Jerusalem police for allegedly making threats to Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh over a news report.
Salah Elayan, an Israeli Arab who is head of Qurei's bureau, was detained by police at his Beit Safafa home yesterday afternoon after Abu Toameh, the Post's Palestinian affairs correspondent, complained to police on Sunday night that Elayan repeatedly threatened him over the telephone.
Abu Toameh had reported that, in a telephone conversation, Qurei requested a meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to discuss the IDF's siege of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah.
Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said Elayan was released on bail last night, and warned not to approach Abu Toameh or his home. Here is Abu Toameh's story, in his own words:
It all started with a news story in Sunday's Jerusalem Post about a phone conversation between Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Ahmed Qurei and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The conversation, which dealt with the crisis in the Ramallah offices of Yasser Arafat, took place on Saturday.
One of Qurei's senior aides, Salah Elayan, phoned me to protest the story. He said it was untrue that Qurei had asked to see Sharon, and immediately started abusing me and threatening to harm me. Elayan... refused to listen to anything I had to say.
But that was not all. Even after I hung up the phone, refusing to hear the abuse and threats, he made several more calls to my mobile phone, repeating his threats and curses.
An hour later, another one of Qurei's aides, Firas Yaghi, also called to threaten, this time under the pretext that the story had "harmed Qurei's dignity and presented him as someone who is humiliating himself in front of the Israeli prime minister." After consulting with many of my Palestinian colleagues, I was encouraged to file a complaint with the Jerusalem police. Many told me of similar threats they have also received from certain PA officials and their assistants.
Intimidation of journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is not a new phenomenon but not all choose to tell the story.
Through this experience, I have once again been reminded of the risks involved in working as a newsman in the PA-controlled territories.
Journalists covering events in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are sometimes faced with life-threatening situations, especially over the past two years. That's why many of them, particularly foreign TV crews, prefer to use armored vehicles. A stray bullet fired by an over-cautious IDF soldier or a Fatah gunman is the nightmare of many journalists driving around in these territories.
But what many don't realize is that the real danger comes not from the bullets of an M-16 or AK-47 assault rifle. Rather, it comes from attempts by certain elements in the PA to intimidate journalists who are only trying to carry out their jobs in a professional manner.
There has been a slight improvement over the past few years in the PA's record regarding the freedom of the press. But there are still some in the PA who believe that a journalist's job is first to be "loyal to the cause" and then to report the truth.
It becomes even more complicated and dangerous if, like myself, you are an Arab journalist working with the foreign or Israeli media. Then you are expected to be an "obedient servant" or a "soldier" in the war of propaganda. You are expected to tell the truth only if it sounds and looks convenient and appropriate. Otherwise, you could be risking your life.
Unfortunately, some PA officials (especially those who returned from Tunis and Lebanon), have almost no understanding of the real role of the media. As far as they are concerned, the Palestinian media should not be different from those in the Arab world official organs for the rulers and their regimes.
Last night, Qurei's office claimed that he had nothing to do with the threats. Many PA officials and Palestinian journalists, who are in touch with me on a daily basis, phoned me to express their disgust at the threats. It is this kind of support that keeps me running and gives me hope that things may yet change for the better. KHALED ABU TOAMEH Sep. 24, 2002 The Jerusalem Post
ABU ALA - RAMAT ESHKOL ALSO TO BE PART OF PALESTINIAN STATE
By: Aaron Lerner Date: 22 December, 1997
IMRA interviewed Ahmed Qreia (known as Abu Ala), speaker of the Palestinian legislative Council, in English, on December 22. The entire interview follows.
Abu Ala: There will be no compromise for one centimeter of the West Bank including Jerusalem.
IMRA: I have spoken with people from the Israeli peace camp and they all seem to be convinced that in a settlement such an area as French Hill or Ramat Eshkol - let's call them the older settlement areas...
Abu Ala: Nothing. Not settlements or settlers either.
IMRA: Not even French Hill or Ramat Eshkol?
Abu Ala: No. No. Of course no. That is occupied territory from 1967 and that is the compromise.
IMRA: We are talking about property worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Abu Ala: If there are individuals owning property then like in any country of the
world it will be preserved for that person. But not for groups.
IMRA: What do you see happening to the people who live in those large neighborhoods.
Abu Ala: they are welcome to apply for citizenship under Palestinian law.
IMRA: Is there a provision in Palestinian law for dual citizenship or would they have to renounce their Israeli citizenship?
Abu Ala: That can be discussed, but not as settlers, not as Israelis in Palestine.
Profile: Ahmed Qurei
Ahmed Qurei, also known as Abu Ala, is the second Prime Minister the Palestinian people have had since April 2003.
His predecessor, Mahmoud Abbas, otherwise known as Abu Mazen, resigned in early September after a power struggle with Mr Arafat.
Mr Qurei's elevation to the post was not without its own problems. The former speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council also clashed with the Palestinian leader over the formation of a new Palestinian cabinet.
Shortly after taking over, Mr Qurei was locked in a lengthy battle with Mr Arafat over who should take over the key interior ministry post.
A leading member of Mr Arafat's mainstream Fatah faction, Mr Qurei was one of the architects of the Oslo peace accords signed with Israel in 1993, which led to Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Regarded as a moderate and a pragmatist, he is a banker by trade.
He was born in Abu Dis, Jerusalem, in 1937.
He joined the Fatah wing of the Palestine Liberation Organisation at the end of the 1960s but did not come to prominence within the PLO until the mid-1970s, when he took over its economic and production enterprises in Lebanon.
By 1980, the PLO's business enterprises generated an income of about $40m a year and, with 6,500 full-time employees, ranked as one of the largest employers in Lebanon.
When the PLO was forced out of Lebanon, Abu Ala went to Tunis with Mr Arafat. With the death or assassination of other senior PLO leaders, he gradually gained more influence until he was elected a member of the Fatah central committee in 1989.
That marked the start of his political career, and he began to play an increasing role in peace negotiations.
After playing a key role in the secret Oslo talks he continued to participate in numerous negotiations with the Israelis.
One of his main contributions, according to the Palestinian strategic analyst Yezid Sayegh, was to help put together a Palestinian development plan which was presented to a World Bank conference on aid in 1993.
It was Abu Ala who came up with the idea and found funding for the plan, which then became a central document in the PLO development strategy for the Palestinian territories.
He also helped design the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR) - an organisation channelling international capital - before he was elected to head the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Abu Ala is reported to be a man of great personal charm - tolerant and good-humoured - which has no doubt contributed to his appeal as a negotiator.
His easy-going style has won him friendships over the years with his Israeli counterparts.
Under Palestinian law, if the president dies or becomes incapacitated, it is the speaker of the Legislative Council who becomes head of the Palestinian Authority for an interim period until elections are held.
But Abu Ala may be handicapped by the fact that he has no power base within the PLO.
According to Palestinian political analyst Ghassan al-Khatib, Abu Ala's power is centred on the Oslo structures of the Palestine National Authority, which the Israeli incursions have done much to destroy.
THE HAMAS CHARTER
Interviews with Hamas women
Hamas in its own words
A CRY FROM THE HEART
Has there ever been a peace process?
CAN ISLAM MAKE PEACE WITH ISRAEL?
WHY DID YASSER ARAFAT SIGN THE OSLO ACCORD?
The treaty of Hudabiyyah
The treaty between Saladin and Richard I
Peace? What peace?
Sermons in Palestinian mosques
The truth about Arafat and the Palestinians
Yasser Arafat over the years
Aid money used for weapons
Obituary of Yasser Arafat
Egyptian tributes to Arafat
Marwan Barghouti could succeed Arafat
Palestinian leadership should get real
Hamas on the 1967 borders
Arafat and the Viet Cong
The Hizbullah programme
The Gaza disengagement