PLO Reacts Strongly to Rabin Comment Linking Charter Change to Elections

Palestinians reacted angrily to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s statement that Israel would not allow elections in the territories until the Palestine Liberation Organization amends the parts of its covenant calling for the destruction of the State of Israel.

Rabin made the remark to Israeli reporters while en route to the United States this week.

The amendment to the charter, which was agreed to in the Declaration of Principles signed by Israel and the PLO last year, “is in large part tied to our ability to hold elections in the territories,” said Rabin.

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian official heading the committee on elections in the territories, accused Rabin of introducing new conditions after the Declaration of Principles had been signed. “I think it’s a deliberate attempt on Rabin’s part to postpone the implementation of the whole agreement,” Erekat told Israel Radio.

“And to be honest, the Jericho-Gaza agreement cannot continue to stand on its feet alone. I think this attitude of Mr. Rabin is leading toward the collapse” of the whole peace process, he said.

Economic Minister Shimon Shetreet rejected Erekat’s charges. He said the Palestinians cannot expect Israel to continue implementing its side of the self-rule accord when they do not meet their own obligations.

“One (commitment) is the amendment of the Palestinian covenant, and this part becomes more and more necessary because we hear statements which are contrary to their commitments and obligations,” he told Israel Radio.

When asked if he thought PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat could muster the required support within the Palestine National Council to change the covenant, Shetreet said, “We are tired of hearing ‘Yasser Arafat is weak, Yasser Arafat cannot, Yasser Arafat should not.’

“He signed an agreement, it’s time that he found a way to get everything done.”

Meanwhile, Israel has filed a complaint with the Palestinian Authority over the call at a security service training ceremony in Jericho to “bring the armed struggle to Haifa, Jerusalem and Bet She’an.”

Dr. Ahmed Tibi, a close adviser to Arafat, said the recruitment into the new Palestinian security forces of Palestinians wanted by Israel for their activities during the intifada “natural.”

Israel had objected to these recruits this week, but Tibi called Israeli reaction exaggerated. He said the Israeli leadership does not understand Palestinian society.

Israel has demanded that the PLO turn over 10 wanted activists who took part in a training exercise for security agents in Jericho. They are suspected of having killed Palestinian collaborators during the six-year uprising against Israel.

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