Who is the leader of the Palestinian Authority - Arafat or Abbas? (PMW-PALESTINIAN MEDIA WATCH) By Itamar Marcus 06/05/03)
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The world´s optimism about the peace process is largely a function of
seeing PM Mahmoud Abbas, as the new accepted leader of the PA. But
how do the Palestinians see things? A quick look at the front page of
the PA’s official daily, Al Hayat al Jadida, gives an interesting
Since June 19th, the front page of the PA daily has had 17 pictures
of Yassir Arafat and only 6 pictures of the Prime Minister Mahmoud
Abbas (Abu Mazen). Most of the Arafat pictures are large and appear
at the very top of the page, while Abbas’ face is always small, the
size of a coin. Arafat’s face is often the entire picture while Abbas
is always with other people in meetings. In one picture Arafat is
kissing a little girl.
Even today, the day after the Aqaba Summit, Arafat’s close up picture
appears on the top of the page, while Abbas appears from a distance
and lower down. An article on the front pages reports that Arafat
called the Palestinian delegation to give them instructions.
One of the few days when a picture of Abbas appeared without Arafat,
the headline of the front page was: “Abu Mazen: Arafat is the
legitimate chosen leader.” [May 21, 2003] This message also appears
today in the PA daily Al Ayyam: “Abu Mazen attacks the attempts to
distance Arafat, who is the symbol and the chosen President… his
relations with Arafat are good and he coordinates his steps with
There is a great difference between the world’s perception of the
leadership roles in the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian’s
perception. Within the PA today Arafat is still the supreme leader
and the one who will make all the decisions regarding the future
relations with Israel.
And the pictures are worth a thousand words.
[A-Hayat al-Jadida, May 26, 2003] [A-Hayat al-Jadida, May 25, 2003]
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