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Newspaper La Voz del Interior
Cordoba – Sunday, January 21, 1996

Fruitful relationship with Argentina (view)
Correspondent in Buenos Aires

Suhail Akel, a representative of the Palestine National Authority (PNA) in Buenos Aires, foretold the beginning of a fruitful relation with Argentina “in all levels”, from the fact he has been recognised as a diplomat of his country.

During the interview with La Voz del Interior, Akel emphasised that Argentine businessmen are interested in investing money in public works. They will be put in motion with the “reconstruction” of Palestine.

With regard to this, he stated that Cordoba is one of the provinces which is subject of general interest in respect of starting up commercial relationships “due to its high business level”.

He said that there is also an interest in putting in motion exchange plans, thus Cordoba universities receive Palestinian students.

The diplomat pointed out the election of Yasser Arafat as the Palestinians’ president in the “historical” elections which took place yesterday in the their liberated territories.

-Hamas movement is the Arafat’s primary opposition force and it refused to take part in the elections, what is going to happen to it?

-We had liked the idea Hamas took part in the elections, because it had favoured reconstruction a lot. That attitude prejudices; it does not reaffirm or consolidate its claims. Anyway, Arafat has already designated a parliamentary seat for the leader of Hamas. Arafat is the natural and absolute leader, both during the time of the struggle for liberation and in the peace negotiations with Israelis.

-Iejie Ayash, a member from Hamas movement, has been killed. He was considered an expert in attacks with explosives. To what point has it affected the negotiations with Israel?

-That terrorist act, which we condemn, annoyed Hamas again just when we had signed a non-aggression accord among Palestinians or against Israel. We had also agreed not to boycott the democratic elections. We, Palestinians, have our own Justice and we had been able to judge if Ayash was really the author of the attacks Israel imputed to him. Bringing Ayash to the Palestinian Justice had been a great pleasure. In the same way that we expect the killer of Yitzhak Rabin –who was our peace partner- is brought to Justice. We expect that some day the ideological authors of the Sabra and Chatila massacre in 1982, where five thousand Palestinians died, are brought to Justice by Israel. In Israel, it was establish that the direct culprits were Ariel Sharon, who had to leave his office of Minister of Defence, and the Prime Minister Menahem Begin, who also had to resign. But nowadays, Sharon takes a seat at the Israeli Parliament with total impunity.

-The Israeli secret services have assumed guilt with regard to the mortal attack against Ayash. Isn’t it a serious threat to the peace process?

-The Israeli government not only should have greater control over its secret services, which are not so secret now, but also over its Israeli settlers who live in the Palestinian territory. These days there have been clashes because they do not want to withdraw from Hebron. While the settlers are allowed to carry weapons and the Israeli law allows them to use these guns against Palestinians, there will be a great concern about the possibility of successfully carrying out the peace process.

-What is going to take place after the elections?

-We will be finishing the arrival process of the Palestinian police at Al Jalil (Hebron), which is one of the last bastions Israelis must demilitarise. In May we are going to start a third stage to negotiate the cession of Eastern Jerusalem –which is our capital city-, the refugee issue and the outline of the definite borders.

-Argentine gave your representation diplomatic status, what are the next steps?

-Within the fruit of the negotiations with Israel, we expect that soon Argentina recognises the Palestine State in order to carry out full relationships.

For the moment, we have taken a very important step. It has been established the Argentine Palestinian Chamber of Commerce. There was a dinner with ten first-level businessmen and we are now preparing a first mission of Argentine businessmen to establish direct contact with ours businessmen and authorities in Palestine.

-What are the prospects for this approximation?

-Palestine is a country which must be re-constructed. Its economic, cultural and social structure has been devastated during occupation. The Argentine businessmen seem prepared to intervene in telecommunications, drinking water works, co-operation, and the construction of houses and hospitals. Cordoba is highly strengthen from the business level and we expect to visit it soon to share a new stage of commercial relationships.

-What products could you place in Argentina?

-We are a country which focuses on cattle and farming; and we possess good minerals. The people want to re-float the economic structure. It will be possible to export from industrial products to that such beautiful crafts Palestinians make

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