JERUSALEM (Apr. 23)
Two Laborite Ministers expressed divergent views Thursday on the meaning of the Palestine National Council (PNC) meeting in Algiers for the Middle East peace process.
Energy Minister Moshe Shahal said the hard line taken at the meeting by Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat showed that once again, the PLO has missed an historic opportunity for peace. But Ezer Weizman insisted there are still elements within the PLO whom “one could talk to.”
Arafat, attempting to affect a reconciliation with terrorist extremists such as George Habash and Naif Hawatmeh, formally renounced his 1985 accord with King Hussein of Jordan which aimed at joint negotiations with Israel. Farouk Kaddoumi, the PLO’s “foreign minister,” demanded that Egypt cancel the Camp David accords to return to the Arab world.
Shahal, speaking at the Druze village of Joulis, said “The PLO is more interested in making peace between rival factions in the organization than with achieving peace for the Palestinian people.”
Weizman, a Minister-Without-Portfolio who works out of the Foreign Ministry, told the convention of Kibbutz Haartzi, part of the Mapam movement, that the PLO has emerged stronger from the Algiers meeting and sooner or later Israel would have to negotiate with Palestinians associated with it.
He said the ban on any contacts with the PLO was without substance since Israel has had indirect contacts with it for the past 2 1/2 years and Israeli leaders have met with PLO-supporters in the administered territories.
Meanwhile, the PNC, the so-called Palestinian parliament in exile, is considering resolutions which would force Arafat to break with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and enlarge the PLO executive committee to include more radical elements. The resolutions will be voted on at the closing session Saturday.