French Jewish writer Marek Halter, who met in Tunis last month with Yasir Arafat, has now asked the Palestine Liberation Organization leader to come clean about his intentions regarding Israel.
Halter, an ardent supporter of Israel who has maintained contacts with the PLO, was invited to Tunis by Arafat, following Jordan’s decision to cut off ties to the West Bank and cede all claims over the territory to the PLO.
Halter published details of the meeting in the French daily Le Monde. He also wrote an open letter to Arafat that was published Tuesday in The New York Times.
According to Halter’s account, Arafat said the PLO has been planning for years to declare an independent state in the administered territories alongside Israel, but has refrained from publicizing its intentions.
In his letter to the PLO chairman, Halter asks Arafat to clarify his organization’s intentions and to promise an end to terrorism against Israel and the annulment of a provision of the PLO Charter calling for Israel’s destruction.
He asks Arafat if he will clarify his ambiguities and explain his purported about-face during the upcoming session of the United Nations General Assembly, which he hopes to address.
Halter made similar demands in a recent interview in Paris. He said at the time that he was still waiting for Arafat to renounce the PLO Charter provision publicly.
‘PEOPLE OF THE BOOK’
Halter, author of three books on Jewish history and the politics of recent times, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he explained to Arafat that Jews believe implicitly in what is written in the charter, because “we are the people of the book. That which is written we believe.”
Halter said he asked Arafat to say publicly “that he is ready to go to Jerusalem to discuss peace.”
In his letter, Halter urges Arafat to endorse declarations made recently by PLO officials Bassam Abu Sharif and Abu Iyad. They have been quoted as saying that the PLO is ready to begin negotiations with Israel, as well as establish a Palestinian state alongside and at peace with the Jewish state.
Halter also asks how Arafat will deal with opposition to peaceful goals from hard-line, renegade elements within the PLO camp, including George Habash, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
And he questions whether a Palestinian state “will not always want to expand at the expense of Israel,” causing “interminable wars.”
He tells the PLO leader that Israelis’ choice in the November Knesset elections “will partly depend on your answers.”
(JTA staff writer Susan Birnbaum in New York contributed to this report.)
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.