Leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) began a two-day meeting in Gaza City Sunday to discuss the details of the proclamation of a Palestinian state promised by Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
Around 100 of the 129 who make up the PLO central council arrived at Arafat's office in Gaza for the meeting.
The council liaises between the 650-member Palestine National Council and the 18-member executive committee.
The meeting, chaired by Arafat behind closed doors, began with a minute's silence in memory of the Palestinian "martyrs" killed in the struggle against Israel.
The council's agenda included reports on the practical measures necessary for setting up an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza strip territories controlled by the autonomous Palestinian Authority.
Arafat had already put back the declaration of an independent state under intense pressure from the United States and Europe in May last year, when the interim Oslo accords of 1993 expired, but said on June 25th that a Palestinian state will be proclaimed "in a few weeks."
The Palestinian Authority currently controls around 40 percent of the West Bank and 65 percent of the Gaza strip, either totally or partially.
Council members were set to hear reports on Palestinian refugees, prisoners being held in Israel, the next Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the status of Jerusalem.
Around 1,000 members belonging to various Palestinian movements gathered outside Arafat's office to urge the central committee to proclaim a Palestinian state.
They called on Arafat to persist with his demands in peace talks with Israel, particularly on the right of return of Palestinian refugees, on Jerusalem, the dismantling of Jewish settlements and on the handover of all territory occupied by Israel in the war of June 1967 - GAZA CITY (AFP)
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