Arafat faces 'very frank' criticism: PLO's leadership, peace policy and finances challenged in Tunis

THE CHAIRMAN of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Yasser Arafat, faced stormy criticism of his leadership, his peace policy and his financial management at a meeting of the PLO executive committee in Tunis. PLO officials described the first session, which lasted until the early hours yesterday, as 'very frank'.

Shortly before the meeting began, Taysir Khaled, a representative of the Damascus-based Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said he would demand Mr Arafat's resignation. But then, he would. The DFLP remains a splinter group which excels at cogent Marxist self- analysis, but whose political weight is dwarfed by Yasser Arafat's mainstream Fatah movement.

At issue are both Mr Arafat's specific proposals to advance the Middle East peace process, and the fact that he has presented them to the Israelis without properly consulting the Palestinian negotiators to the peace talks, who come from the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza, or the PLO executive committee. Peace talks are due to resume in Washington on Tuesday.

A proposal gaining greater circulation is the establishment of an interim Palestinian state in only part of the occupied territories, pending a final settlement. This would be in Gaza, and Jericho on the West Bank. Arafat loyalists were quick to play down the row. They emphasised the importance of the Jericho-Gaza proposal.

'This is the most serious solution which can be implemented before the end of 1993. This interim government's most important task must be the preparation of all the infrastructure needed for an independent Palestinian state, therefore, though it will be chaired by President Yasser Arafat, it must be composed essentially by technocrats and nationalist personalities from both inside and outside (the occupied territories),' says Bassam Abu Sharif, a political adviser to Mr Arafat and the man often used to fly a kite for the chairman.

No one in Tunis dismisses the importance of the opponents to the US-initiated direct peace talks in Washington and the signing of a first agreement between Israel and the PLO. 'It's not a storm in a tea cup, it's a real typhoon, for we are on the eve of a historic moment which is going to change the life of millions of people in the region, particularly affecting the Palestinians and the Israelis,' says Mr Sharif. 'This means many people will have to go, for young and new blood to be injected. And of course, many old leaders in the region are not that happy about the prospect and the real possibilities of the coming into life of a Palestinian state.'

At the same time, Mr Sharif plays down the resignation of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish from the executive committee and the suspension from membership of Shafiq al- Hut, the PLO's representative in Lebanon.

Vigorous protests about financial mismanagement by the leadership are also dismissed by independent observers in Tunis as part of the earthquake which will shake the PLO as soon as it signs any agreement with Israel.

'The financial squeeze by our Arab donors, like the Saudis and the Kuwaitis, started months before the Gulf war. But now that we are reaching an agreement with the Israelis, and we have urged our cadres to drastically cut their expenses and limit their privileges, suddenly we hear talk about financial mismanagement and even corruption,' one PLO executive explained bitterly.

At stake is not only the PLO's tentacular organisation but most importantly its military wing, with its generals, colonels, pilots, marines and soldiers scattered in various Arab countries, from Algeria to Yemen.

Leading Israeli newspapers reported that the Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, secretly met a top PLO official to forge a Palestinian self-rule deal. One newspaper identified the Palestinian as Mahmoud Abbas (known as Abu Mazen). Another newspaper said it was Mr Arafat's spokesman, Yasser Abed Rabbo.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone