Hundreds of Palestinians from West Bank hear Hussein in Amman
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ King Hussein told 500 residents of the occupied West Bank on Thursday that he wants to ″liberate″ both Palestinians and the PLO.
His comments appeared to be the latest round in a contest for influence in the Israeli-occupied territory since his break with Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The government said his audience was the first large group of West Bank Palestinians to come to Amman from the occupied territories in support of Hussein’s Feb. 19 announcement.
Hussein has not acknowledged such a competition in the West Bank, which Jordan ruled until the 1967 Middle East war, and he repeated again Thursday that the PLO is ″the sole legitimate representative″ of the Palestinian people.
Each night, however, his state-run television has bombarded the West Bank with scenes of excited people shouting ″Yaish 3/8″ (Long live 3/8) and expressing support for Hussein’s decision to end his year-long association with Arafat in search of a joint approach to peace with Israel.
On Wednesday, Hussein addressed more than 100 people the government described as West Bank residents, but most of them maintain permanent residences in Jordan.
Jordan’s parliament, in resolutions adopted Sunday and Monday, also noted that the West Bank was linked to Jordan constitutionally in 1950.
With equal regularity, the PLO news agency, WAFA, carries reports of union, social and professional groups rallying to Arafat. Arabic-language newspapers in Jerusalem carry frequent advertisements supporting the PLO chairman.
Hussein told his audience Thursday: ″We want to liberate the PLO until, with God’s help, it will echo every one of the sons of Palestine.
″We want to liberate the PLO from all strange influences.
″We want to liberate the Palestinian will from mental terrorism and material temptation.″
Without defining his terms further, the king urged a decision ″taken without pressure or tutelage or suggestions, from near or far, Arab or foreign.″
In repeating his acceptance of the 1974 Arab summit resolution endorsing PLO primacy among Palestinians, he said, ″We will not be an alternative for the Palestinians in demanding their rights.″
Israeli leaders often have urged Hussein to be just that by entering peace talks without a PLO partner.
Hussein called on the West Bank residents to debate ″within the PLO″ the direction it should take.
The king broke with Arafat over the PLO refusal to endorse U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which recognize Israel’s right to exist within secure borders in return for withdrawal from occupied Arab territories. That endorsement is a central U.S. condition for dealing with the PLO.
Various PLO factions are allied with or financially aided by Syra, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations. Critics have accused Hussein of trying to dominate the organization or sidestep it.
The king said Feb. 19 that he was ending the year-long effort to work with Arafat because the PLO leadership had not honored a pledge to endorse the U.N. resolutions.
Arafat rejected the resolutions on the basis of his customary objection: that they do not address the issue of self-determination, by which the PLO means an independent Palestinian state.