Buenos Aires – June 21, 1989
Without an Israeli withdrawal there will be no accord with Palestinians (view)
The recent Palestinian-American meeting which took place in Tunis did not produce positive results. The PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, has requested Washington to develop a declaration of principles on Middle East, together with an implicit recognition of Palestinian people’s national rights. He also deplored the US veto with regard to UN resolutions condemning Israel for smashing the 19-month Palestinian uprising. Abed Rabbo, a chief of the PLO negotiating group, sharply explained that any practical step “must be part of a process which ends up in the establishment of a Palestinian State”.
In all, Ambassador Robert Pelletrau, who was designated as the sole American contact with the PLO in December, clearly expressed that Washington believed that the Israeli plans of carrying out elections in the occupied territories were “constructive”.
“This was the third meeting, but we believe that it was very positive. The United States has always been very hostile to the fact of having a dialogue with the PLO; we believe that we have taken a step forward. At a meeting of the Jewish-American organisations, a month and a half ago, the Secretary of State James Baker said that Israel should leave aside its expansionist ideas and it should allow Palestinians to have their own State. This was a hard blow for Prime Minister Isaac Shamir”, Suhail Akel told El Cronista. Suhail Akel is in charge of the Palestine Information Office in Argentina. This Office is located in Rosario and it tries to do its best to achieve an Argentine governmental recognition for a future PLO Diplomatic Representation in the country. But that is another issue.
-The American stance coincides with that of the Labour Israeli Finance Minister, Simon Peres.
-The Labour block has never truly defined a coherent peace proposal. The Labour always refers to an autonomy, not to a self-determination. Peres agrees with the fact of carrying out elections in the occupied territories under international supervision and accepting the participation of Palestinian leaders from East Jerusalem as candidates and voters. But we have had some experience with regard to this. In 1973 and 1976 Israel gave permission to carry out elections in some areas where all our candidates succeeded; we took over all municipalities and city governments in the occupied territories. But it lasted a short time.
-After an Israeli withdrawal, would the PLO accept to carry out elections under the UN supervision, taking into consideration the Namibia case, which has been mentioned by Arafat many times?
-The Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories is our sole stipulation. That is our first demand. For years, the US and Israel have searched for a representative who negotiated in the name of the Palestinian people. The PLO is the national leadership of Palestine; it is our national identity.
-What is the PLO? Is it a party or a movement?
-The PLO is our social, cultural and political expression. That is why the United Nations has declared the PLO the Palestine representation.
-What is the future of the Intifada?
-Firstly, the Intifada has achieved what all Arab-Israeli wars did not achieve. The uprising has defeated Israel in the diplomatic and economic fields. Until now, Israel has lost 3,000 million dollars due to the Palestinian workers’ strikes. The diplomatic victory was proven when the United States refused Arafat’s appearance at the New York-based United Nations. With 154 votes in favour and 2 against (United States and Israel), the session was moved to Geneva with a cost of 500 million dollars, in order to give us the possibility of expressing ourselves in that forum.
-Do the PLO terrorist sectors play any role?
-All sectors have accepted the independence declaration of the Palestine National Council. Such a declaration took place in Algiers on last November 15. Anyhow, could 136 countries acknowledge a terrorist organisation?
-What are the PLO expectations on Israel?
-We expect that Israel seats with us in an international conference under the UN supervision. We are involved in the conflict.
-Is the PLO prepared to cede anything?
-We have ceded everything. The PLO has recognised all UN resolutions. The 181/2 resolution dealing with the 1947 partition which divided Palestine into two States: an Arab state and a Jewish one. It has also recognised other resolutions which are more irritating such as 242 which regarded the problem as that of “refugees”.
We have also recognised Israel’s right to exist. We have taken all steps. It is impossible to cede more things. Now Israel must take its step.
Photo: Suhail Akel: “We have already cede in order to achieve an agreement”.