GENEVA (Sep. 5)
The Palestine Liberation Organization will wait until the end of 1988 before issuing a declaration of independence, according to an American academic who met last week with PLO leader Yasir Arafat.
Jerome Segal, a Jewish instructor of philosophy at the University of Maryland, told a news conference here Thursday that he met in Tunis with Arafat and one of his top aides, Salah Khalef, better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Iyad. Segal met Arafat once before, in June of last year.
Suggestions culled from newspaper articles written by Segal and carried in the Arabic press have been incorporated into recent Arab documents outlining plans for declaring an independent Palestinian state.
According to Segal, who is participating in the International Meeting of Non-Governmental Organizations in Geneva, there is a “real transformation” inside the PLO.
During his meeting, he tried to impress upon his hosts the need for them to launch a “peace offensive” that would include recognizing Israel’s right to exist.
But the PLO officials told him that such an initiative would be difficult to undertake unless there is hope of a response from the Israeli side.
Israeli leaders have so far refused to consider the PLO as a potential participant in peace negotiations.
PLANS TO BRIEF SHULTZ
Segal said he intends to convey messages from Arafat to U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz or Assistant Secretary of State Richard Murphy upon his return to the United States.
At a conference session on “the question of Palestine,” an Israeli attorney echoed Segal’s entreaties to the PLO that they recognize the State of Israel and form a government that would propose a detailed peace plan.
Amnon Zichroni, a member of the left-wing Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, said that as a result of the Palestinian uprising, Israelis are “slowly beginning to understand that the PLO is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”
Gerald Kaufman, a leader of Britain’s Labor Party and his party’s designated foreign minister, also addressed the session Friday. He said that any settlement in the Middle East must recognize the rights of both Israelis and the Palestinians.
The Israelis must have secure and recognized boundaries and the Palestinians “must live as free citizens in their own land,” he declared.