Ashrawi: Palestinians Suspicious of Middle East Summit
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat heads to the emergency Middle East summit with his people deeply suspicious about its aims, Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi said Sunday.
The summit is scheduled for Monday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt after more than two weeks of bloodshed. It will be attended by Arafat, US President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
Arafat "is going to the summit knowing that Palestinian public opinion is extremely suspicious and with tremendous pressure asking him not to go," said Ashrawi, a former Palestinian peace negotiator.
"They (the Palestinians) feel that the summit is there to abort the Intifada, preempt the Arab summit, and of course to rescue Barak from his own domestic crisis and to serve Clinton," she said in an interview with BBC television.
"But very few participants are focusing on Palestinian rights or needs," added Ashrawi.
The legislator hailed the participation, for the first in the time peace negotiations, of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the European Union's foreign and security policy chief, Javier Solana.
But Ashrawi was pessimistic over the peace process.
"It has lost its credibility, its impact, its substance and even its legitimacy in the eyes of Palestinians," because "Israel continues to behave like an occupier rather than a peace partner," she said.
"The lack of accountability for Israel and the racist occupation behavior using military might, threat and intimidation have gradually led to the destruction of any credibility for the process and of course the US as well as any trust in the Israelis," said Ashrawi.
More than two weeks of violent clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories have claimed more than 100 lives, mainly Palestinian - LONDON (AFP)
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