NEW YORK (Aug. 29)
Two leading Palestinian figures from the West Bank and Gaza Strip today accused the Israeli-backed Village Leagues of acting as Israeli “collaborators” and at the same time reiterated support for the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
“The PLO is the official representative and spokesman of all the Palestinian Arabs wherever they live in the world,” said Elias Freij, Mayor of Bethlehem, in an appearance via satellite from Israel on the NBC-TV “Meet the Press” program. He said that the PLO is the accepted representative organization of the Palestinian people.
Rashid Shawa, former mayor of Gaza, who was ousted recently from his position by the Israeli authorities, said also that the PLO represented the Palestinian people. In response to a question that Israeli authorities differentiate between the PLO and the Palestinian people, Shawa said that since the PLO represents the Palestinians, “we are part and parcel” of the PLO.
The program featuring the two Palestinian personalities was scheduled for an earlier broadcast date but according to reports, Israeli authorities had refused Shawa permission to travel to the United States. Freij contended today that he, too, had been denied permission to travel to the U.S. Israel said that Freij’s claim was false.
Both Freij and Shawa accused the members of the Israeli-backed Village Leagues of the West Bank as being “collaborators” and that these Palestinians who participate in the Leagues do not represent anyone.
REJECTS SHARON’S DECLARATIONS
Shawa said Defense Minister Ariel Sharon’s recent declarations that Israel will not allow a Palestinian state on the West Bank is “absolutely rejected by Palestinians.” He said the Palestinian people are entitled to a home, to self-determination and a “state of our own.”
Freij, a more moderate Palestinian official, reiterated his call for the reciprocal, mutual and simultaneous recognition of the Palestinians by the Israelis. He said there was a need for a political dialogue between the two peoples but that unfortunately, there have been only negative responses to his calls from both Palestinian leaders and Israeli officials.
Both Palestinian officials rejected the autonomy proposals under the Camp David accords unless, as Shawa said, it contained full autonomy with an eventual goal of self-determination and statehood. The former Mayor of Gaza said Palestinians will not be a “party to sign a submission to give up everything to Israel.”
Freij called for a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as the capital. Shawa, though not as clear, appeared to indicate that he accepted a similar proposal, with a state on Palestinian soil on the West Bank and Gaza.
Meanwhile, King Hussein of Jordan said today that he hoped progress can be made on a resolution to the Palestinian question in the aftermath of the Lebanon war. “I hope that the world and the United States in particular, concentrates on this issue with all those desirous of seeing progress towards the establishment of a just and durable peace for it to come about,” Hussein said in an interview via satellite from Amman, Jordan on the ABC-TV “This Week with David Brinkley” program.
Hussein reiterated his support for the Palestinian cause and rejected recent Israeli statements that Jordan already is the Palestinian homeland. “I believe Jordan has always associated with the Palestinian hopes and aspirations …. That does not mean in any way the issue is resolved.” He said that Jordan has provided a home for Palestinians while the issue of the Palestinian homeland is being resolved.
Regarding the Jordanian ouster of Palestinians in 1970 in what has become known as “Black September” when thousands were killed in bloody fighting with the Jordanian armed forces, Hussein said the struggle at that time “was between law and order and chaos and anarchy … This was an experience that was a very sad one for all concerned.”