Palestinian President Yasser Arafat Sunday told a meeting of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) central council that declaration of an independent state is "irreversible," according to a participant in the meeting, reported AFP.
"The proclamation of the Palestinian state is irreversible," Arafat told the assembled council members, according to parliamentary affairs chief Nabil Amr.
"The Palestinian leadership will go forward (with the declaration of a state), taking into account the higher interests of the Palestinian people," Arafat said, adding that the future "Palestinian state will be one of the principle pillars of peace in the region.
"The Palestinian people are determined to declare an independent state," Arafat said, insisting that they enjoy "solid support at the international level, which will facilitate recognition of their state.”
He reaffirmed that "peace is a strategic choice" for the Palestinians and deplored what he said was the "lack of Israeli cooperation (with the Palestinians) since Prime Minister Ehud Barak took power a year ago."
Around 100 members of the 129-member Central Council began a two-day meeting Sunday to review the modalities for declaration of an independent state.
The Central Council liaises between the 650-member Palestine National Council, the PLO's 650-strong parliament, and the PLO's 18-member executive committee.
In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, addressing the weekly meeting of his cabinet, repeated his call for a US-hosted trilateral summit to try to finalize a peace treaty ahead of a September target date for a deal, his office said, reported Reuters.
“President Arafat reconfirmed today that he will declare a state this year and it is up to the Palestinian leadership and the Central Council to decide when that state should be declared,” the agency quoted peace negotiator, Hassan Asfour, as saying (Several Sources)
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