JERUSALEM (Feb. 23)
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir spoke scornfully today of the resolution adopted by the Palestine National Council (PNC) in Algiers which gave no mandate to Jordan to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians and appeared to reject President Reagan’s Middle East peace initiative. He said it was nothing new.
“The only difference between the PNC convention in Jerusalem 19 years ago and the present convention is that this time it moved further to Algiers,” Shamir told the Third World Assembly of Jewish War Veterans meeting here. He said there was nothing new in the resolutions adopted at Algiers. They were merely a repetition of similar resolutions passed at a PNC convention in Cairo nine years ago, according to Shamir.
The Algiers meeting endorsed the program adopted by the Arab League at Fez, Morocco, last year calling for a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. According to Shamir, this is nothing more than “the first stage in the plan to create a so-called democratic Palestinian state that would replace Israel.”
He suggested that the events of the past 19 years should have caused the Palestinians to “reconsider their path. They should consider what they have achieved in their useless war,” he said.
ARAFAT GIVEN SOME FLEXIBILITY
The PNC formulation in Algiers seemed to provide Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat with some flexibility toward the Reagan plan should it ever be altered to include a reference to Palestinian self-determination, meaning a Palestinian state.
Reagan specifically ruled out a Palestinian state in his proposals, a position which the PNC resolved made it “unacceptable” to the Arabs. Israel flatly rejected the Reagan initiative within hours after it was announced by the President last September I.
Shamir’s view that the Algiers formulation was merely a restatement of the old plan to liquidate Israel was not shared by some Israeli observers of the PLO who detected a slight change in its position.
According to Matti Steinberg of the Truman Institute at the Hebrew University, “This is the first time that the PLO openly adopted a plan which means a political settlement with Israel. For the first time the PLO says that in order to get a piece of Palestine it is willing to reach some kind of a settlement, albeit unacceptable by Israel,” he said.
RESOLUTION HAILED ON WEST BANK, GAZA
The Algiers resolution was hailed an the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a courageous step which did not destroy the unity of the various factions within the PNC. Rashad A Shawa, the deposed Mayor of Gaza, said the PLO moderates emerged more successful than the extremists at Algiers. He noted that for the first time, the PNC adopted the moderates’ demand to resolve issues by majority vote whereas in the past a unanimous vote was necessary.
A Shawa also said that contrary to the impression given, the PNC has not closed the door on the Reagan plan. Although the plan as it stands is unacceptable, the implication is that a modified plan would be acceptable, he said.
The PNC refused to grant any kind of mandate to Jordan or to non-PLO Palestinians to negotiate on its behalf. But a senior PLO official told reported in Algiers that with a “minor” change — acceptance of the right of Palestinian self-determination — the PLO would be prepared to foster negotiations with Washington.