PLO chief tiptoes into Israeli homes
Saturday 23 January 1993
For several months there has been a gradual thaw in Israel's perception of the PLO, and an increase in informal contacts. Particularly since the emergence of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, as a visible new threat, Israelis have begun to look more kindly on the PLO, although it is still officially described as a terrorist organisation.
A year ago the idea of Mr Arafat addressing Israelis in their living rooms was unthinkable, and would have brought massive condemnation. In the presence of Yitzhak Shamir, the former Likud prime minister, the name PLO could hardly be mentioned. Any Israeli who had contact with the PLO risked a heavy jail sentence, as did Palestinians from the Israeli-occupied territories.
Three days ago, however, the Israeli parliament lifted its long- standing law banning Israelis from meeting PLO officials. Mr Rabin reluctantly supported the lifting of the ban, although he has declined to change the government's policy of refusing to negotiate with the PLO. The repeal of this law made possible, on Thursday night, the transmission of an interview with Mr Arafat, in which he directly asked the Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, for a summit meeting.
The Prime Minister's office immediately rejected such a meeting, but said little else in response. The right-wing Likud party offered no condemnation of the Arafat interview.
Hanan Ashrawi, the Palestinian peace team's spokeswoman, said: 'This was a genuine attempt by Mr Arafat to reach out to the Israeli people. I hope this kind of interview will start a process of de- demonisation of the PLO that will serve the cause of peace.'
Mrs Ashrawi added that she believed, eventually, the growth in contacts would lead to direct relations between the Israeli government and the PLO. 'It must come if there is to be peace,' she said.
In the interview, conducted in Tunis by the veteran Israeli free- speech campaigner, Abie Nathan, Mr Arafat said he hoped the peace process could continue, if Israel changed its position on the deportation of 413 Palestinians.
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Isis publicly behead man in Syrian town square for 'insulting Allah' as he screams for help
One spelling error costs Companies House up to £9 million after being sued for ruining business
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£29000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst- (Customer Suppor...
£14500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A PPC Executive/Manager is requ...
£55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager - Retail / FMCG / WM...