JERUSALEM (Sep. 11)
Two prominent Palestinian figures on the West Bank revealed their support for Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s peace initiative but a third figure, who was also reported as supporting Sadat, has denied upholding the Egyptian leader’s initiative. According to a report last Thursday in Yediot Achronot, the three Sadat supporters were Gaza Mayor Rashad a-Shawwa, Beit Jalla Mayor Farah Sabah al-Araj, and Hebron Village Union chairman Mustafa Dudin.
A-Shawwa noted that Sadat’s initiative would, in the final analysis, improve the status of the Palestine Liberation Organization in international circles. In fact, he said, the meeting between United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young and the PLO observer at the UN came directly as a result of the moves taken by Sadat. In response to a-Shawwa’s statement in the Israeli Arabic daily, Al Anba, the Democratic Front for the liberation of Palestine, headed by Naif Hawatma, issued a death threat to the Mayor.
In an interview last weekend in the East Jerusalem daily, Al Quds, a-Shawwa said his statement to Al Anba was grossly distorted. He maintained, in the Al Quds interview, that the PLO is the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
Considered one of the most moderate public figures in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a-Shawwa’s support for the autonomy plan is considered essential. It is especially significant if the self-rule scheme is to be tried in Gaza before the rest of the administered territories. Until now, the Gaza Mayor has refused to take part in the autonomy talks if they are not publicly linked to an eventual scheme of full determination. His statement issued over the weekend clearly reaffirms this position.