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Abdul Shafi Urges Arafat To Reform PLO With-AM-Israel-Palestinians

December 31, 1994

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ Amid increasing criticism of Yasser Arafat’s autocratic style, his chief peace negotiator on Friday again urged that the PLO be reformed.

Haidar Abdul Shafi is among several high-level officials who in the past several months have demanded Arafat change his single-handed approach to decision-making and allow more democracy in the movement he became chairman of in 1968.

Abdul Shafi, who arrived from the Israeli-occupied West Bank earlier Friday, said he would head a seven-man delegation of Palestinian reform advocates meeting with Arafat at the Palestine Liberation Organization headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia, on Sunday.

″We hope that our meeting with the PLO chairman will pave the way for wider participation in decision making,″ he said. ″We hope we will reach a common ground,″ Abdul Shafi told The Associated Press.

Unlike PLO factions and independent groups that have vowed to wreck the Sept. 13 Israel-PLO accord, the reformists support the historic agreement, but criticize the way Arafat is handling negotiations with Israel.

They say it is time Arafat accepts that the PLO is no longer a revolutionary liberation movement but a transition to a governing authority in Palestinian autonomous areas designated under the September accord.

In November, 116 prominent Palestinians sent Arafat a petition - drawn up by reformists - that criticized the leadership’s handling of negotiations with Israel and demanded wider participation in now stalled talks.

In addition to Abdul Shafi, the signatories included several members of the Palestine National Council - the Palestinian parliament-in-exile - and two other members of the Palestinian negotiating team with Israel.

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