JERUSALEM (Aug. 8)
United briefly in condemnation of an uncovered Palestinian plan for declaring an independent state, Labor and Likud went their separate ways Monday over whether discovery of the plan should have been made public in the first place.
While Likud stood openly behind the leak of the documents, uncovered during a search last month of detained activist Faisal al-Husseini’s Arab Studies Institute in East Jerusalem, Labor ministers called the leak “a stupid act” that unnecessarily inflamed the public.
The debate was fueled by continuing uncer- tainty over the fallout from Jordan’s apparent intention to withdraw its financial and administrative support from the territories.
The uncertainty led to partisan squabbling at the weekly Cabinet session, and formed the backdrop to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Murphy’s talks Sunday with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem.
Sunday’s Hebrew newspapers trumpeted the discovery of the Palestinian statehood plan, which included among its proposals calls for a declaration of independence, a government in exile headed by Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat and a state with borders based on the U.N. partition resolution of 1947.
The PLO has made no official announcement endorsing the plan.
The parties’ reactions to these revelations smelled strongly of election-season politics. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of Likud gave his blessing to the leak, saying it was good to expose the intentions of those who proposed to establish a Palestinian state “along the borders of the partition plan.”
‘JUST ANOTHER PAPER’
But Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, the Labor Party leader, said the document was “just another paper” that “got everyone nervous for no reason, and made out as if the sky had fallen down.”
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, a Laborite, agreed at the weekly Cabinet session that the document was blown out of proportion. He said the document was leaked “without my knowledge or authority.” He denied it was released to justify the arrest of Husseini, which has been criticized by the dovish Israeli group Peace Now.
“Husseini’s detention took place without any connection to the material seized,” said Rabin. “He was detained because of his involvement in assisting the violent action against Israel.” Husseini has been detained three times in the past two years.
In discussion of King Hussein’s recent moves, Labor ministers charged that the Likud’s rejection of the latest U.S. peace plan and a general political standstill led Hussein to cut his ties with the territories, thus leaving the PLO as the sole Arab factor there.
But at the same time, security sources said that Hussein’s departure from the territories might help create a local Palestinian leadership that would will act, at least partially, independently of the PLO, and would allow some form of a Palestinian-Israeli dialogue.
During separate visits Sunday with Shamir and Peres, U.S. envoy Murphy continued to seek support for the U.S. peace plan.
ENVOY MAY MEET PALESTINIANS
On Monday, Murphy went on to Amman to feel out Hussein on his intentions. On Tuesday, Murphy was scheduled to continue to Cairo, where it is thought he may meet with Palestinian representatives.
But it was still unclear how the Americans and the Palestinians would solve the American diplomat’s refusal to meet with PLO members.
Hussein’s disengagement from the territories has shifted the limelight from the continued unrest there.
But an assassination attempt on the mukhtar, or village head, of the West Bank village of Bidya served as a reminder that life in the territories is far from normal.
The mukhtar, Mustafa Abu Bakr, 47, was shot and wounded Sunday afternoon in the courtyard of his home, in the latest attack on a suspected collaborator with Israel.
Abu Bakr was shot four times in the stomach as he sat in the courtyard with his family. He was reported in fair condition at the Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava, where he underwent surgery.
It was the second assassination attempt on Abu Bakr in recent months. Villages at Bidya have accused him of mediating land sales with the Israelis.