As Palestinians ponder plan for independence, Israelis signal firm no. BID FOR STATEHOOD
Jerusalem — In a rare show of unity, left- and right-wing ministers in Israel's coalition government joined on Sunday in rejecting Palestinian plans for an independent Arab state in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Plans to establish an independent state in the occupied territories have surfaced in documents recently published in East Jerusalem. The plans have not been formally discussed or officially sanctioned by the Palestine Liberation Organization, according to Israel Radio.
The plans were reported to include recognition of Israel and to call for negotiations over permanent borders between Israel and a Palestinian state.
A declaration of independence has been discussed for some time in Palestinian circles, Palestinian sources said. But the idea gained great impetus when King Hussein of Jordan severed ties with West Bank Palestinians last week.
Palestinians said underground leaders in the occupied territories developed the plans in a bid to make political gains from the eight-month-old Palestinian uprising.
``We've never had the objective conditions to declare independence and the time has never been as right as now in terms of what the uprising has achieved,'' said Palestinian philosopher Sari Nusseibah. ``Sympathy for the Palestinians has never been so high.''
``We are seeking to achieve a situation where you already appropriate autonomy or self-rule for yourself and ask for more. You strengthen your negotiating position.''
Officials of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) were expected to consult with Arab leaders this week on the subject of a government-in-exile.
As Israeli leaders met United States envoy Richard Murphy for Middle East peace talks, Labor ministers said Israel would not be swayed by Jordan's handover of responsibility for the West Bank to the PLO or reported plans for a Palestinian state.
``Neither Jordan nor the Palestinians will dictate a unilateral solution,'' a Labor Party statement said.
Mr. Murphy, US assistant secretary of state, appealed to Arabs and Israelis to begin talks on a settlement.
``Arabs and Israelis can break out of the current stalemate by reaching out to one another. Words and actions of accommodation must replace rhetoric of intolerance,'' Murphy told reporters.
He would not comment on the Palestinian call for independence other than to say that Palestinians must be involved in peace talks at every stage.