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Israeli Opposition Remains Skeptical About Pnc Decision

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Not all Israeli leaders are sharing Prime Minister Shimon Peres’ enthusiasm for the Palestine National Council’s decision to amend its charter.

Prime Minister Shimon Peres hailed Wednesday’s vote in Gaza, saying, “Maybe ideologically it is the most important change in the last 100 years.”

Peres said, “The Palestinians removed all that was written in the covenant as required by Israel in the 1993 letters of mutual recognition” signed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated Nov. 4.

But Likud opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu played down the vote’s significance.

“I would be cautious about giving unlimited credit to this step,” Netanyahu said.

The PNC “gave a committee the power to amend clauses sometime in the future which it rules run counter” to the Israeli-Palestinian agreements, he told Israel Radio.

In its decision, the PNC did not adopt a new covenant, but appointed a legal committee to draw one up. The new document is not expected to be completed for several months.

The Israeli group PeaceWatch, which monitors implementation of the Israeli- Palestinian peace accords by both sides, also said the PNC decision fell short of what was required by those agreements.

“The PNC did not actually amend the covenant, but instead approved in principle that changes would be made, without specifying which clauses would be changed, in what manner or by what date,” the group said in a statement.

In legal terms, “there is a sharp difference between calling for something to change and actually implementing the changes,” PeaceWatch added.

Meanwhile, Hamas, which violently opposes the peace process, said it would continue its armed struggle.

In a statement issued by the Hamas spokesman in Amman, Jordan, the militant Islamic group said many Palestinians still adhere to the original, 32-year-old covenant.

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