JERUSALEM (Sep. 24)
The Peace Now movement, joined by 24 Knesset members, urged the Palestine National Council this week to endorse the Middle East peace conference that the United States and Soviet Union are hoping to convene next month.
A statement issued here Sunday by the dovish group warned the so-called Palestinian parliament-in-exile not to block a historic opportunity for Israeli-Palestinian peace by refusing to send a Palestinian delegation to the conference.
The PNC session, which began Monday in Algiers, shaped up as a long, bitter debate between mainstream leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which has not rejected peace talks, and die-hard radicals demanding armed struggle instead of diplomacy.
The Peace Now statement reminded the Palestinian leadership that “only in a peace with Israel will Palestinians solve their problem, as only in the peace process with the Arab nations will Israel get her security.”
The statement urged the PNC to select leaders from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to represent the Palestinians at the conference.
But Israel made clear that any local Palestinians who turned up at the Algiers meeting would face dire consequences when they returned.
The warning was aimed chiefly at Palestinian activists Faisal Husseini and Hanan Ashrawi, who were in London contemplating flying to Algiers.
It appeared on Tuesday, however, that they would go to Washington instead to see Secretary of State James Baker, whom they have met several times in Jerusalem, most recently last week.
Signing the Peace Now statement were 14 of the 39 Labor Party Knesset members, the three Mapam members, all five of the Citizens Rights Movement and the two Knesset members of the Center-Shinui Knesset faction.