Worthy Christian News » Israel-Palestinian Conflict » Saudi Columnist: PA Declarations No Longer Credible
Ahmad Al-Rab'i, a columnist for the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, recently apologized to his readers for reporting the Palestinian Authority's (PA) version of the Karine A weapons ship affair. Al-Rab'i called on his readers not to believe the PA's declarations any longer. Following are excerpts:
"When Israel announced that it had seized the [Karine A] weapons ship, I doubted the Israeli account and espoused the PA's claim â€“ that the whole thing was a fabrication. I did this out of a sense of obligation to support our Palestinian brothers, and out of trust in the veracity of their account. But it seems that the [Palestinian] leadership deceived us with its account, and we, in turn, unintentionally deceived our readers."
"I remember when my colleague Abd al Rahman Al-Rashed, editor [of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat] criticized the Palestinian version [of the incident]. All the conspiracy theory 'bulldozers' rose up against him; they charged him with 'serving' the enemyâ€¦"
"Now, not only is Arafat confessing to the [Israeli] account, but he goes further still, and has sent [a letter] to the American secretary of state [from] which it can be interpreted that he takes responsibility for this incident."
"Therefore, I take responsibility before my readers; I and my readers were victims of our obligation to and trust in the Palestinian leadership. I assure the readers that since Arafat has confessed his responsibility to Colin Powell, I will no longer take the Palestinian leadership's declarations seriously."
"A journalist in our Arab world is confused, [caught] between his respect for himself and his readers and the Arab attitude towards the news. Fearing that he will be denied, the journalist misses the opportunity to analyze important news. If he writes about it [anyway], he... is stricken with anxiety, lest his commentary be published in the same issue that carries the denial of what he reports."
"The [guiding] principle [in the Arab world] is not to treat the public with candor and transparency, but to conceal information [from it], such that if [the news] is picked up by the foreign press, we can deny it. Sometimes we are forced to confirm an item after we have denied it, because it has turned out to be a proven fact."
"When we defended the [Palestinian] National Authority in the weapons ship incident, we faced two problems:
"First, some commentators and Palestinian leaders denied the story, claiming that it was a fabrication, a show, and an attempt to divert public opinion from the peace issue."
"Second, smuggling weapons in this way is [in itself] a naive act attesting to ignorance â€“ primarily because these weapons will not shift the military balance in favor of the Palestinians. Likewise, smuggling weapons on a route controlled by the Israeli navy is an escapade no reasonable person would attempt."
"[However,] what matters here is that the PA 'bestowed' upon us lies, and we, on our part, pressed our readers to support the PA. We, and our readers, were victims of our commitment [to the Palestinians] and of the trust we placed in it â€“ which is now lost." 
 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), February 16, 2002.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.