PNC Speaker: We have not come to Damascus to Arrange for Arafat Visit
By Nabil Al Mulhem
A top Palestinian official denied on Tuesday that his visit to Damascus came to prepare for a visit by the Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
Speaker of the Palestinian National Council, Salim Za’noon, told Albwaba.com that the visit, in which 11 Palestinian parliamentarians accompanied him, was aimed solely at “offering condolences on the death of President Hafez Assad,” who died on June 10th, “and to conduct talks with the Syrian parliament.”
The AFP had quoted Za’noon as saying "our visit is without doubt a prerequisite for a visit by President Arafat, who is eager to pursue (dialogue) with the new Syrian president, Bashar Assad."
Admitting that the Palestinian-Syrian relations have been tense, the speaker said that President Arafat’s participation in the late Assad’s funeral succeeded “breaking the ice between the PNA and Damascus.”
“It’s our duty not to remain chained to past disputes, especially that we face the same difficulties [in the conflict with Israel]. Syria can not accept less than the complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan, and the Palestinians can not make compromises on issues like Jerusalem and the borders,” he said.
He called for coordination between Syria and Palestine on issues related to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
According to Za’noon, such coordination would result in “Israel’s failure to impose the borders set by the British mandate between Palestine and Syria,” in a bid to isolate Palestine from the outside world.
“We look at Syria as the party that could abort such plans through sticking to its demands that Israel withdraw to the June 4th, 1967 line,” he said.
Commenting on the stalemate in the Palestinian-Syrian coordination, the speaker said that the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference provided the common ground for the peace process at all tracks, that is, the principle that peace should be built on UN resolutions. Nevertheless, he continued, it wasn’t harmful that each track has had its uniqueness.
In response to a question on his expectations as to the relations between the PNA and Syria in the new era, he said it was premature to give an accurate answer to the question, but voiced his hope that gaps between the two sides would be bridged.
The Palestinian delegation was due to meet Tuesday with Syrian Parliament Speaker Abdel Qader Qaddura. On Wednesday, the Palestinians will pay their respects at Hafez Assad's grave in the northern city of Qerdaha, before leaving the next day – Albawaba.com
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