Israel’s deputy foreign minister said this week that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has decided to convene the Palestine National Council on April 12 in the Gaza Strip to discuss amending those sections of the Palestine National Covenant that call for the destruction of Israel.
Deputy Foreign Minister Eli Dayan said Thursday that Arafat had mentioned the April date when the two met in Stockholm earlier this week.
Dayan added that Israel views the amending of the anti-Israel clauses in the covenant crucial to any further progress in the negotiations between the two sides.
Meanwhile, the secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, Jamal Sourani, was quoted this week as saying that the 18-member committee would convene next week to set a date for the meeting of the Palestine National Council, the so-called Palestinian parliament-in-exile.
Sourani also said the committee would discuss whether the covenant would be abolished altogether, or if only the anti-Israel clauses in it would be revoked.
A two-thirds majority of the 540-member Palestine National Council is needed to change the covenant.
Under the terms of the Israeli-Palestinian agreement signed Sept. 28 in Washington, the PNC must convene no later than two months after the inauguration of the 88-member Palestinian Council, which was chosen in the Jan. 20 elections, to revoke the clauses.
Israel has threatened to freeze the peace talks if the PLO does not live up to its end of the accord.
After the Jan. 20 elections, Prime Minister Shimon Peres voiced the warning that the peace “train will stop,” if the covenant is not amended.
Peres also said that Israel would allow all members of the PNC – including those affiliated with the groups that reject the Israel-PLO peace accords – to enter the autonomous areas to attend the meeting and vote on the covenant.
Israel Radio reported Thursday that one of those groups, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, had submitted to Arafat a list of 100 members who wished to come to the self-rule areas for the vote.