JERUSALEM (Jul. 31)
Palestinians and Israelis have come under fire for their meetings with one another, underlining the obstacles that await any future negotiations on a more formal basis.
The Likud Knesset faction announced Monday that it would take legislative steps enabling Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to fire Deputy Finance Minister Yossi Beilin for his contacts with supporters of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
In addition to previous contacts with West Bank Palestinian leaders, Beilin organized a meeting Sunday between dovish members of the Labor Party and Palestinian leader Faisal Husseini.
Likud charged that beyond such meetings, Beilin is actually serving as Vice Premier Shimon Peres’ envoy to the PLO.
Also on Monday, a Palestinian leader said he would not be intimidated by the death threats he has received from Palestinian radicals who oppose his taking part recently in talks with Shamir.
Graffiti smeared Sunday night on street walls in Ramallah threatened lawyer Jamil Tarifi with death for his contacts with Israeli leaders. One, signed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, warned that “the bullet which reached Zafer al-Masri will reach you as well.”
Masri was the Israeli-appointed mayor of Nablus who was murdered three years ago by a member of the Abu Nidal terrorist group for cooperating with the Israeli authorities.
Like Masri, Tarifi is being targeted by PLO splinter groups, even though the mainstream PLO leadership has approved his actions.
According to a report Monday in Ma’ariv, Tarifi met with PLO leader Yasir Arafat at the end of last month in Cairo and received his permission to meet with Shamir.
HUSSEINI ESPOUSES RIGHT OF RETURN
Although Tarifi said he took part in meetings with Shamir only in a private capacity, he was seen as a well-known supporter of Arafat’s Al Fatah faction, who would be unlikely to move without PLO approval.
The Tarifi meeting was debated Monday in a session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Haggai Meirom of Labor asked whether by meeting so identifiable a PLO supporter as Tarifi Shamir had given legitimacy to negotiations with the PLO.
Shamir replied that he was not holding negotiations but “clarifications” during his recent meetings. The prime minister reiterated his opposition to any negotiations with the PLO, because, he said, the purpose of the organization is to establish a Palestinian state.
“Personalities in the territories who regard the establishment of such a state as the final result of the political initiative are no partners for a dialogue with me,” he said.
Husseini’s call for a Palestinian state during a meeting with Labor’s dovish Mashov faction is what angered Likud members.
Husseini told the Labor Knesset members that upon the creation of a Palestinian state, the right of return should be granted to Palestinians living outside the territories.
He left vague whether this would include the right to return to pre-1967 Israel or whether it would be limited to the administered territories.
Husseini urged Israelis and Palestinians to “abandon both dreams and nightmares and push forward the cart of peace.”
Justice Minister Dan Meridor was among the Likud officials who reacted with anger, saying Husseini’s call for a right of return “proved the real intentions of the PLO.”