Arafat's peace move for Clinton

YASSER ARAFAT, the Palestinian leader, convened senior officials and legislators yesterday to drop clauses from the Palestinian charter which call for the elimination of Israel, in the run-up to President Bill Clinton's visit to Gaza.

The Palestinians voted overwhelmingly to declare the clauses null and void. The vote was an interim step ahead of Monday's session of the Palestine National Council (PNC), which is to reaffirm the move in the presence of Mr Clinton.

As the leaders met, thousands of Palestinians marched through the rain in the funeral procession of Jihad Iyad, a 17-year-old stonemason shot on Wednesday when there was rioting throughout the West Bank. Yesterday's rain helped to reduce clashes between Israeli soldiers and demonstrators calling for the release of 2,400 Palestinian prisoners.

Mr Arafat may also be trying to contain the protests as he prepares to welcome Mr Clinton on Monday. The Israeli hard right sees the visit as de facto recognition of a Palestinian state by Washington.Posters showing Mr Clinton wearing Palestinian head-dress, and slogans saying "Clinton, Go Home", have been appearing on walls in Jerusalem.

The clauses in the Palestinian charter to which Israel objects are being removed by an elaborate constitutional mechanism whereby the Palestinian Central Council in Gaza yesterday approved a letter from Mr Arafat to Mr Clinton, saying the clauses had been nullified.

One hundred and five of the 124-member central council were present for the vote; 81 voted for, seven voted against and seven abstained.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, says he has orderedsecurity forces to act with "an iron fist" against rioters after clashes this week which left two Palestinians dead and 150 people injured. "Our duty is to activate the Israeli army and the security element against this trouble in the firmest possible way," he said.

Mr Netanyahu said he would wait to see the outcome of the PNC meeting before deciding whether to attend a meeting with Mr Clinton and Mr Arafat. The Israeli leader had insisted that the PNC decision be reached by vote rather than by acclamation.

Another sign of tension between Israel and the United States was an angry response by Mr Netanyahu to a report that William Daley, the US Commerce Secretary, had made an implicit call for fresh elections in Israel. "Hopefully the people of Israel will make their voices heard a little louder in their support for peace," he is alleged to have said. The US embassy later said Mr Daley was misreported.

On a more personal level, the Clintons are reported by the Israeli press to have declined a meeting with Mr Netanyahu and his wife. Diplomats say Mrs Clinton is trying to limit the amount of time she will spend with Suha Arafat, fearing she will have to give equal time to Mrs Netanyahu.

In an effort to stop the rioting on the West Bank, Dennis Ross, the US special envoy, made an implicit appeal yesterday for Israel to modify its refusal to free the Palestinian detainees, who are on hunger strike. The rioting began when Israel freed 150 criminals, many of them car thieves, but only 100 security prisoners under the Wye Agreement brokered by Mr Clinton in October.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor