Rabin Links PLO Charter Revision To Self-Rule Elections, PLO Protests
Nov. 17, 1994
JERUSALEM (AP) _ PLO officials reacted angrily today to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's threat to hold up self-rule elections unless the PLO revises its charter and removes clauses calling for Israel's destruction.
Saeb Erakat, a minister in Yasser Arafat's autonomy government, said Rabin violated the Israel-PLO accord by attaching new conditions.
''What Rabin is saying now is that we don't have an agreement anymore,'' said Erakat, who is in charge of planning elections. ''Every day we hear new excuses from Rabin...I guess Rabin doesn't want to implement what he signed.''
The dispute was the latest sign of eroding trust between Israel and Arafat's six-month-old self-rule government.
Israeli officials this week accused Palestinian officials of deliberate provocations such as recruiting militants wanted by Israel into the security forces.
They also protested remarks by Arafat to an rally on Tuesday that referred to the autonomous areas as a ''a first piece of land taken from the Zionist enemy.'' Arafat aides later claimed the chairman simply had quoted from a 1974 PLO document to make a point.
Israeli Environment Minister Yossi Sarid, a top negotiator with the Palestinians, warned the PLO today that Israel might retaliate by freezing expansion of self-rule to the rest of the West Bank.
''It is clear that as long as there are violations that have not been corrected, we cannot continue, and the Palestinian Authority is the one hurt most by this,'' Sarid told Israel army radio.
Rabin, reportedly angered by Arafat's reference to Israel as an ''enemy,'' told reporters Wednesday while flying to the United States that changing the PLO charter was a condition for holding elections.
In their accord, Israel and the PLO had agreed to hold general elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by July 1994. For balloting to take place, Israeli troops must first pull out of Arab cities.
A new round of talks on redeployment and elections was scheduled for later this month.
In an AP interview earlier this week, Arafat said it would take time to revoke the charter because the changes would have to be approved by the PLO's Central Committee and then the PLO's parliament, the Palestine National Council.
Rabin was in Los Angeles to receive the 1994 Ronald Reagan Freedom Award, presented at a black-tie gala Wednesday night. He shared the honor with Arafat and Jordan's King Hussein, but their ceremonies have not yet been scheduled.
The Israeli prime minister heads to Denver today to speak before a convention of Jewish leaders.