PLO lays groundwork for new plan

By , contributor

PLANS to convene the Palestine National Council in September and to announce a Palestinian government-in-exile have been postponed until November, according to a close advisor of PLO chairman Yasser Arafat. In the meantime, the PLO leaders will seek wider international support for the idea of a government-in-exile, according to the aide, Sayed Kamal.

In the run-up to November, when elections will take place in both the United States and Israel, Mr. Arafat will send out ``serious signals'' to the leaders and electorates in both countries about his new political program, Mr. Kamal said. The new program is based on the 1947 UN partition of Palestine, recognition of Israel, and negotiations to trade peace for land, he said.

In addition, Arafat will seek a new UN Security Council resolution that specifically endorses the rights of the Palestinians, said Kamal, a member of the PLO executive committee.

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In the wake of Jordan's decision in July to renounce its claim to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, speculation has focused on what the PLO would do to fill the vacuum. PLO officials had said the PNC, the Palestinians' parliament-in-exile, would meet in September to decide on a re-sponse.

But, Egyptian and Palestinian sources say, Cairo encouraged the PLO to formulate a political program aimed at winning public acceptance rather than just announcing a government-in-exile.

Now the PLO leader is trying to build support for his plans. He met with UN Secretary-General P'erez de Cu'eller in late August to discuss the possibility of Arafat's addressing the UN General Assembly soon and also the feasibility of a new Security Council resolution, well-informed sources said.

The Palestinians have been stymied by Washington's insistence that the PLO accept UN Resolutions 242 and 338 before the US will talk with the PLO or include it in peace negotiations. The resolutions, passed after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, refer to the Palestinians only indirectly as refugees and make no mention of national rights.

Kamal implied the PLO might accept 242 and 338 as one of the principles underpinning a government-in-exile if the Security Council dealt with Palestinian national rights in a new resolution. According to informed sources, a new Security Council resolution is unlikely, since the US is a permanent member of the council, but the PLO would settle for a General Assembly resolution as a second choice.

In the meantime, Arafat plans several highly visible speeches in which aides say he will endorse the principles publicly outlined recently by his one of his key advisors, Bassam Abu Sha-rif. They include coexistence with Israel and a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem.

Arafat hopes the speeches will build widespread European and US support for a Palestinian state, and also improve the chances of a Labor Party victory in Israeli elections, Kamal said.

Arafat's was expected to speak at the ministerial meeting of non-aligned nations in Lar-naca, Cyprus, Sept. 3. In mid-September, he will address the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. And in October, he hopes to speak to the UN General Assembly.

According to aides, Arafat has been invited by a major press club in the US to address its members and will seek a US visa so he can venture out of the confines of the UN in New York. But US sources say it is unlikely a visa will be granted.

Kamal says Arafat has no illusions about US support for a Palestinian government-in-exile. But the Palestinians expect that once the PLO recognizes resolutions 242 and 338, the US will begin a dialogue.

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