MEDIA FRIENDLY: While researching financial reforms within the Palestinian Authority (page 6), reporter Ben Lynfield was surprised by a warm reception from Yasser Arafat's two new ministers. "Whatever one may think of Arafat, the new cabinet he formed in May has significantly boosted the foreign-media friendliness of the [Palestinian Authority]," says Ben, who was especially impressed by Finance Minister Salam Fayyad's openness.
"[Mr. Fayyad] showed up without any aides and devoted two and a half hours to his first interview with the Monitor.
"The media style of the reformist ministers contrasts with that of individuals in the former cabinet who would stand you up after a long trip through the West Bank, demand to see questions in advance, or allow a series of aides or one senior adviser to systematically torture you by ping-ponging your interview request into oblivion. One aide even relished having the journalist wait for days in a hotel room in Gaza, sometimes in vain, for an interview."
COMMUNICATION WITHOUT BORDERS: The "Gaza and Bethlehem first" deal (page 1) is not the only sign of peace in the Middle East. Over the weekend, in Jordan, the Monitor's Cameron Barr took advantage of a new development in Mideast communications: He checked the voice mail messages on an Israeli cellphone, which now "roams" in Jordan. Up until a few months ago, his Israel cellphone died at the Jordanian border. "You could use your Israeli cell in Europe, but not in the country next door," he says. Of course it still doesn't roam in Egypt or Lebanon or a host of other countries in the region, but, as he says, "it shows someone is doing something to open up dialogue."
David Clark Scott