US Opposes Arafat Plan for Top Level Palestinian Meeting at Camp David
A call by Palestinian President Yasser Arafat for a meeting of Palestinian leaders at Camp David during the Middle East summit has met with US opposition, a Palestinian official told AFP on Wednesday.
Arafat has already invited a dozen figures, including from the PLO executive committee, to meet at the US presidential retreat to consult on the peace negotiations.
Palestinian opposition leaders such as members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine have also been invited.
The bulk of the guests were due to arrive in Washington on Thursday, said the official, who asked not to be named. Two had already turned up, said AFP.
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart told a news briefing the Palestinians had not requested permission for their leaders to enter the Camp David compound, reported Reuters.
"No such request has been made. I haven't heard anything nor has anyone on our delegation heard a request ... for a meeting between Chairman Arafat and some of his leaders who are not here at Camp David," he said.
Another US official said the meeting could not take place. The whole idea of using the presidential retreat as a venue was to give the two sides a chance to negotiate away from the daily pressures of domestic politics.
"There's not going to be any meeting. Camp David is closed," the official told Reuters.
But Palestinian officials said Arafat would nevertheless insist on bringing his leaders together for a meeting at his headquarters at Camp David.
Arafat convened the parley as a follow-up to a meeting of leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization's central council in Gaza City on the first two days of July, when they decided to declare a Palestinian state on September 13th.
The 129-strong council liaises between the Palestine National Council, the PLO's 650-strong parliament, and the 18-member executive committee.
The Gaza meeting, chaired by Arafat behind closed doors, discussed practical measures for setting up an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip territories controlled by the autonomous Palestinian Authority, said AFP.
Arafat already put back the independence declaration under intense pressure from the United States and Europe.
The council also pressed Arafat to persist with demands for the right of return of Palestinian refugees, on Jerusalem, the dismantling of Jewish settlements and the handover of all territory occupied by Israel in the war of June 1967 - (Several Sources)
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