Chief Palestinian Negotiator Resigns Amid Talk of Changes

The head of the Palestinian delegation to the peace talks has announced that he will resign from political life and that he will not seek a position in any future Palestinian government.

Dr. Haidar Abdel-Shafi said this week that the signing of the accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization marked the end of his work with the Palestinian delegation.

Abdel-Shafi, 74, one of the founders of the PLO in 1964, was less than enthusiastic about the accord, but has accepted it as the verdict of the PLO’s top leadership.

In recent months, he openly criticized the handling of negotiations with Israel. He also publicly called for a “reorganization” of the top ranks of the Palestinian leadership, implying that Yasser Arafat’s rule of the PLO should come to an end.

Abdel-Shafi, a doctor from Gaza, intends to devote himself to the Palestinian Red Crescent, the medical relief organization he headed for many years.

Palestinian observers in Jerusalem said that Abdel-Shafi’s resignation preceded an anticipated announcement from PLO headquarters that will name new delegates to the peace negotiations with Israel.

Orient House, the picturesque building in eastern Jerusalem that has served as headquarters for the Palestinian delegation, has already lost much of its prestige. Many of its functions have been taken over by regional offices of the PLO, which, since the signing of the accord, have been operating in the open for the first time.

The regional PLO offices were busy during the past few days interviewing hundreds of Palestinians who had registered as candidates for the soon-to-be-established Palestinian police force.

According to Palestinian sources, most of the volunteers would be turned down, since the PLO intended to forge the core of the police force from the Palestine Liberation Army, whose men have trained for years in various Arab countries.

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