GENEVA (Aug. 26)
Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat accused the United States this week of tilting toward Israel and thereby “jeopardizing the peace process.”
His angry speech Wednesday at the United Nations’ European headquarters here contrasted markedly with the upbeat tone emanating from the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in Washington.
Arafat attacked the United States for agreeing to loan guarantees for Israel, which will be used to absorb new immigrants, most of them from the former Soviet Union.
The PLO chief attributed the decision to domestic politics and said it was “not in keeping with the responsibilities of the United States as a co-sponsor of the peace conference.”
Arafat, whose audience at the annual conference of international non-governmental bodies on Palestine seemed smaller than on past occasions, adopted a more moderate tone when he met with reporters later.
“I did not threaten to put an end to the negotiations. If the Israelis continue their ironfisted policy, they will threaten the peace process,” he said.
“I am not pessimistic at all. If I wasn’t optimistic I would not have embarked on this process of negotiations,” he said.
In his speech, Arafat said Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was in reality continuing the hard-line policies of Yitzhak Shamir.
“He gives the world sugar-coated words and pursues an iron-fisted policy on the ground,” Arafat said.
He attacked Israel’s proposal for the election of a Palestinian administrative council to oversee self-rule. He said the elections would be held “under the guns and cannons of its tanks.”
Palestinians want elections to be held under international auspices, he said.