Yasir ‘Arafat has asserted that US envoy Dennis Ross, who arrived in the Middle East yesterday, is carrying an important draft US initiative to end the deadlocked Palestinian- Israeli negotiations. US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will soon submit the initiative after sounding out Arab and Israeli stands.
Following a private meeting with Hamas [Islamic Resistance Movement] leader Musa Abu-Marzuq after midnight on Tuesday, ‘Arafat said he mobilized the world against Israel. He added that in the aftermath of the suicide operation in Jerusalem, Washington realized that a Palestinian-Israeli deadlock bodes severe dangers and damage.
‘Arafat complained to Abu-Marzuq about the shortage of supply items in all occupied Palestinian territories. He pointed out that Israel for the first time closed Palestinian border crossings with Jordan and Egypt and restricted the movement of Palestinians, including his own movements as Netanyahu refused to let him use his plane and he was forced to take two planes, an Egyptian plane that carried him to Cairo and a Jordanian one that brought him to Amman.
Although ‘Arafat was cautious during his one-hour meeting with Abu-Marzuq at the Guest Palace, he briefed Abu-Marzuq on his efforts with the US Administration to release him when he was detained at a New York jail.
Abu-Marzuq thanked ‘Arafat for not submitting to Netanyahu’s pressure to arrest Hamas leaders. ‘Arafat said his principles prevented him from committing such acts, pointing out that he had intervened personally to release Hamas leader ‘Abd-al-‘Aziz al- Rantisi when summoned by the Palestinian security department after the Jerusalem martyrdom operation. Al-Majd has learned that Jordan, Israel, and the United States paused before this meeting and the message ‘Arafat wanted to send to these parties through his important and surprise meeting with Abu- Marzuq which also coincided with another important meeting ‘Arafat held with Iraqi Ambassador to Jordan Nuri al-Wayyis.
A senior Palestinian source told al-Majd he believes that through his meeting with Abu-Marzuq, ‘Arafat wanted to make Netanyahu understand he still has lots of options he can use, particularly the military action option Hamas still upholds.
The Palestinian official refused to comment on what messages ‘Arafat wanted sent to Jordan through this meeting. However, he clarified that ‘Arafat’s message to Clinton and his administration is evidently clear; it stated that Israel’s security cannot be attained through Netanyahu’s suppressive and intransigent measures but rather through reconciliation with the Palestinians, who can coordinate their programs so that Palestinian extremists will be able to serve and not destroy the goals of moderates.
On ‘Arafat’s meeting with the Iraqi ambassador, the Palestinian official said ‘Arafat gave him a message for President Saddam Husayn thanking him for his speech on the anniversary of the Iraqi July revolution. In his speech, Saddam had called on Arabs to support the Palestinian Authority and ‘Arafat’s positions although he disagrees with him and rejects the Oslo accord.
The official added that points of agreement between Saddam and ‘Arafat are growing and that the two sides call for regaining Arab solidarity and convening an Arab summit in the nearest possible time.