Monday, March 20, 2006

How Far Will The PA Go To Get Its Piece Of The Action?

At the end of an article on Hamas' efforts on forming a new government, Reuters finishes off with the Palestinian economic situation as a result of the closing of the Karni terminal:
At U.S.-hosted talks near Tel Aviv on Sunday, Israel and the Palestinians decided on arrangements for basic foodstuffs to enter Gaza to ward off a humanitarian crisis in the territory.

Richard Jones, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, said after the session at his residence that food and other essential goods would be sent from Egypt to Gaza through Israel's southern Kerem Shalom crossing on Monday.

Palestinians in Gaza have reported shortages of bread and other staples as a result of Israel's off-and-on closure of the Karni terminal that handles most goods moving between the Gaza Strip and the Jewish state.

Israel, which pulled troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip last year, has cited security concerns for shutting Karni. It has kept the crossing closed since March 13 and said it has no immediate plans to reopen it.
So here we have the typical Reuters article, which implies:

o They needed the US ambassador to get Israel to open Kerem Shalom crossing

o The closing of the Karni terminal by Israel is arbitrary

o Israel 'cites' some vague security concerns

o Israel stubbornly refuses to set a date when Karni will be reopened

But the Arutz Sheva article tells a different tale, under the headline PA Keeps Crossing Closed, Complains of Humanitarian Crisis which reports:

o The 'security concerns' are threats of terrorist attacks (who knew?)

o Israel is waiting until the threats subside before reopening the Karni crossing (not quite the same as 'indefinitely')

o The PA actually refused to use the Kerem Shalom crossing--possibly because at the Karni crossing they collect 50% of the fees charged per each truck that comes through, but would not collect at the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The Arutz Sheva article was posted at noon and reports that:
As of this morning (Sunday), the PA refuses to open the Kerem Shalom crossing. A PA security official said a final decision would only be made this afternoon, after a meeting with Israeli officials, but that "we have conditions for the opening of Kerem Shalom." [emphasis added]
While the 12:00pm post by Arutz Sheva indicates that Israel offered Kerem Shalom as a substitute crossing, the later 6:00pm Reuters article implies it was arrived at through negotiation, if not outright pressure on Israel. But when the PA agreed to open Kerem Shalom, what conditions the PA may have set are not mentioned in the Reuters article, which is too intent on implying Israel is the one dragging its feet.

Did the PA insist they wanted to collect a percentage of the collections at Kerem Shalom? A fair question, but don't expect Reuters to ask it.

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