Arafat Says Palestinians Strong, Statehood Meeting by Mid-November
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said Monday that his people remained strong even after a month of deadly clashes, and declared that the PLO would hold a meeting on statehood due before November 15.
"The situation is solid and strong. As solid as the Palestinian people and as strong as their desire to defend their Christian and Muslim holy places," Arafat said.
"Together, we continue to holy Jerusalem, the capital of the Palestinian state," he added, speaking to reporters in Gaza City after a brief meeting with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
In September, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s 129-member Central Council held off from its plans to announce statehood unilaterally, but said it would meet again before November 15, the anniversary of Arafat's symbolic 1988 declaration of independence made at the height of a Palestinian uprising at the time.
"The meeting will be held on time," Arafat said. "I cannot say what the council will decide. We are a democracy and what the Central Council decides will be respected."
The Central Council, apparently bowing to intense international pressure, did not set a new date for statehood to be announced during the September meeting.
Arafat on Sunday vowed that the present uprising against Israel, in which more than 150 people have been killed since it began on September 28, will continue until the Palestinians can lay claim to Jerusalem as their capital.
The meeting between Arafat and Mubarak took place a week after the Arab summit in Cairo, the first in four years, and follows the collapse of a US-brokered truce declared during talks at Sharm el-Sheikh almost two weeks ago between Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
The discussions at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh centered on the "explosive situation in the Palestinian territories and the continuing military escalation against the Palestinians," the Egyptian press agency MENA said.
The blocked peace process between the Palestinians and Israel was also discussed, it said.
Egypt on Sunday said its recent tensions in relations with the Palestinian leadership were a passing "summer cloud."
"What has happened recently in Egyptian-Palestinian relations is but a summer cloud which will rapidly disappear," Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said in statements published Monday in the government press.
The Egyptian press has in the past several days published a number of articles accusing the Palestinians of ingratitude and corruption – GAZA CITY (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)