'The Mecca Agreement and the National Unity Government'
In our first report on the 'Palestinian National Unity Government and Prospects for Peace' we monitored an important stage during which infighting between the two main factions, Fateh and Hamas had peaked, and caused the death of many victims, including civilians, from both sides. The first report covered the period between 1/9/2006 to 30/12/2006, during which The Monitoring Unit staff reviewed and analyzed the three major newspapers: Al-Quds, Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah, as well as Palestine Television (PBC) over three months.
This report, entitled 'the Mecca Agreement and the National Unity Government' covers the period between 1/12007 to 31/3/2007, whose political and national developments were a continuation of the last quarter of last year. This period was very grave, as infighting, victims and bloodshed continued during the first two weeks of the current year, followed by political developments that ended with an agreement known as the Mecca Agreement, leading to the formation of the National Unity Government.
The report monitors and analyzes the coverage of the three newspapers Al-Quds, Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah, as well as Palestine Television (PBC), the Israeli, American and international positions towards the agreement and the Unity Government. We were particularly interested in these positions since forming a new government was a national Palestinian need, as well as an international demand replete with political conditions that had to be met in order that political and financial siege would be lifted off the Palestinian people.
The monitoring process was not easy because of the intensity and scale of the event at the field level internally, and of the declared positions of different states externally.
The first week of the current year, when the Monitoring Unit started work, witnessed a violent turning point between Fateh and Hamas. The press, radio and television were not far from these events and their impact, contributing to extreme media and political discourse, and reflecting on the field in further vengeance, killing and targeting. Both rivals used all available tools in this conflict, including the above-mentioned media channels, spokespersons, and most senior politicians.
This media and political escalation is a continuation of the previous period, which witnessed field escalation, and to which the three newspapers allocated large space in covering its events, and adopted an almost unified policy, to convey news on events and on the ground while refraining from addressing core issues related to these events. News and reports continued in such coverage that treated the victims as mere figures, and lacked analysis, and information that citizens need. Such a coverage even lacked the humanitarian aspects and the grave impact of infighting on the lives of individuals, groups and the nation as whole.
In most cases, these newspapers covered the number of casualties and were particularly interested in the organizational and political affiliation of one party rather than the other. They also highlighted the organizational and political identities of parties involved in assaults and killings, but overlooked the identity of the other party that committed similar acts, describing them as 'unknown.’