Former general to lead Israel's Labor Party; Arafat welcomes
Amram Mitzna, a dovish former general who would scrap Jewish settlements on occupied land to foster peace with Palestinians, won Israel's Labor Party leadership by a landslide Tuesday. Early results showed Mitzna with a 10 percent lead over his main rival, party chairman Benjamin Ben-Eliezer.
But opinion polls have indicated that the Haifa mayor, a newcomer to national politics, has no chance of defeating popular right-wing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of the Likud party in a Jan. 28 general election.
Mitzna, 57, who vows not to shave off his beard until Israel is at peace with its Arab neighbors, fleshed out bold options for peace that he says would break a bloody stalemate with Palestinians. "(There should be) a comprehensive evacuation of the Gaza Strip, without delay," Mitzna said in a newspaper interview.
Mitzna reiterated he would reopen peace talks with Palestinian leaders to decide the future of the West Bank, the other territory occupied by Israel in 1967.
The daily Ha'aretz quoted Mitzna as saying that if such talks failed, Israel, under his leadership, would unilaterally erect a "security border" with the West Bank within a year.
Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat said Wedsnesday that the PA does not interfere with internal Israeli politics and that he will extend his hands to the newly elected Labor Party leader Amram Mitzna to create together a "peace of the brave."
"We are not interfering in (Israel's) internal affairs, and we are ready to deal with anyone who is elected. Our hands will be extended" to any Israeli leader prepared to negotiate, Arafat said. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)