Skip to comments.Arafat says "time running out" for two-state Middle East solution
Posted on 01/23/2004 7:00:57 PM PST by NormsRevenge
LONDON (AFP) -
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (news - web sites), in an interview with a British newspaper, expressed his fears that "time is running out" for a two-state solution for peace in the Middle East.
Speaking to The Guardian at his Ramallah compound in the West Bank, Arafat blamed the double impact of Israel's security barrier and the spread of Jewish settlements for undermining the prospects of a future Palestinian state.
"Time is definitely running out for the two-state solution," despite Palestinian commitments going back to the 1980s to accept the West Bank and Gaza Strip (news - web sites) as the limits of Palestinian national aspirations, he said.
Arafat has accused Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (news - web sites) of refusing to comply with the demands of an internationally backed "road map" for Middle East peace which foresees the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005.
Sharon in turn has branded Arafat as the number-one obstacle to any resumption of peace talks, and has confined the veteran Palestinian leader to his Ramallah headquarters.
Israeli officials said Friday that Sharon, who faces a bribery scandal at home, is likely to visit Washington in February ahead of an International Court of Justice hearing on the legality of the West Bank barrier which Israel is erecting.
The Guardian interviewed Arafat as part of a feature on the Palestinians in its Saturday magazine.
It also spoke with Hamas political leader Abdelaziz Rantissi and Islamic Jihad's Gaza spokesman Nafez Azzam, who said they would accept a Palestinian state as a "temporary solution" in exchange for a halt to their armed struggle.
Rantissi added, however, that Hamas would offer no more comprehensive ceasefires without a full Israeli withdrawal, according to The Guardian.
He also warned that Hamas would use "new methods of resistance and new weapons" against Israel, even if the Israeli security wall eventually encloses all main Palestinian areas.
Arafat dismissed Israeli threats to assassinate him -- "What do I care?" he said -- and maintained that the United States and Israel "know that they cannot replace me".
"We are proud of our democracy," he said, warning however that "the situation on the ground" would make Palestinian elections proposed for this April or June "very difficult".
Arafat was warm to the Geneva proposals for a possible peace agreement, unveiled in the Swiss city in December, saying: "It's not binding because they weren't official, but we appreciate it."
But on the ongoing intifada, The Guardian said Arafat was "most engaged".
"Our people are facing military escalation day and night," he said. "What should we do -- should we yield?"
On suicide bombings, Hamas political leader Rantissi defended the deadly tactic as a means to shift "the balance of suffering".
"The number of Palestinian children killed by the Israelis in the past three years is almost as high as the total number of Israeli deaths," Rantissi was quoted as saying.
"These operations have only one target -- to deter the killing of our children and civilians. If they stop killing our civilians, we will stop... We do not have a cult of death, we have a cult of dignity."
Arafat dismissed Israeli threats to assassinate him --
"What do I care?" he said --
and maintained that the United States and Israel "know that they cannot replace me".
And how is it that the precious ICJ has any jurisdiction over what Israel does with its own borders?
I do not recall their ever holding a hearing on the legality of a better known barrier -- the Iron Curtain.
UP YOURS! ... and the horse you rode in on ...
A victim of a Palestinian lynch mob, suspected of "collaborating" with Israel.
He's the very worst example of how to lead a people.
He'll die a failure.