“I am happy I have lived to see it.”
This was the reaction of Bethlehem’s longtime mayor, Elias Freij, to the news that Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization had capped their 30-year-conflict with a mutual recognition pact.
Freij, who is close both to Jordan’s Hashemite rulers and to the mainstream PLO leadership, said the recognition accord would provide the mutual trust and confidence needed to implement the agreement for preliminary Palestinian self-rule that Israeli and PLO officials were to sign Monday in Washington.
But another well-known West Bank leader, the former mayor of Nablus, Bassam Shaka, predicted the self-rule agreement would fail.
Shaka, whose legs were blown off by a Jewish terrorist bomb several years ago, maintains that the self-rule agreement violates the basic principles of the Palestinian movement. He condemned the PLO for taking part in it.
Freij and Shaka personify the evolving dispute between moderates and hard-liners within the territories.
The PLO is confident that backing for the agreement within the territories already strongly outweighs opposition to it, and that this backing will continue to grow as the terms of the deal are implemented on the ground.
Freij said it was now up to Israel to undertake measures that would build confidence between the two sides.
Because of Rosh Hashanah, the JTA Daily News Bulletin will not be published Friday, Sept. 17. We wish all of our readers a joyous and healthy new year.
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