Arafat Rejects Elections Plan in Statement to U.N. Symposium

Yasir Arafat said in a statement Monday that he “categorically rejects” Israel’s plan for Palestinian elections, calling the plan a “fake political project.”

The Palestine Liberation Organization “categorically rejects this fake plan, which is inimicable to its high aspirations,” the PLO leader said in a statement read here by Zehdi Terzi, the PLO’s delegate to the United Nations.

Israel has called for elections in the administered territories to allow Palestinians to choose representatives to negotiate with Israel.

But Arafat said the PLO would only consider elections “following withdrawal of the occupying forces, under international supervision, from Palestinian lands” and the holding of an international peace conference under the aegis of the United Nations.

This appeared to be a somewhat harder line than PLO representatives have taken in recent weeks. Previous statements have indicated that the PLO would consider the Israeli plan if troops were withdrawn from the territories and the elections were conducted under international supervision.

While the PLO has long favored an international peace conference, it was not previously a condition for agreeing to the elections plan.

Arafat’s remarks were read at the opening of five days of meetings sponsored by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

The 23-nation committee, which operates with an $87,000 U.N. allocation, planned the meetings for the purpose of “mobilizing concern and support” for the Palestinian cause.

Workshops at the meetings will focus on implementing “action-oriented strategies” for North America, including speaking tours, ballot initiatives and state party platform proposals.

Jochanan Bein, acting Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, called the meetings “anti-Israel activity, not meant to foster understanding.”

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