Current conditions reviewed with Arafat's advisor Nabil Abu Rudeineh
Palestine-Regional, Politics, 4/21/1998
Questions and Answers with Nabil Abu Rudeineh, media advisor to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat:
How does the Palestinian government view Blair's visit to the region?
The visit has represented a step forward on behalf of Europe and an attempt to push forward the peace process. There have been continuous Israeli attempts to exclude Europe from having a positive role in the peace process. The Palestinian position is very clear. We always demand an active and essential role relating to the Middle East peace process. Israel has always evaded implementing the agreements. Therefore, we believe the Blair visit has represented a qualitative turning point vis-a-vis the Palestinian-European relations and in pushing Europe slightly towards a more practical role in the attempts to revive the peace process. Regretfully, up to this point, Israel refuses any European role in the peace process.
What is the nature of the London meetings next month?
US Special Envoy to the Middle East, Dennis Ross, is coming again to the region next week. Much depends on the outcome of his talks with President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. President Arafat is going to see Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in London next month, and she will be seeing Netanyahu too. Yet it is hard to anticipate now what will exactly happen then. We still need to wait and see what Ross will bring with him and what results he will achieve in his upcoming trip to the Middle East.
What exactly does the PNA think of the US ideas that are yet to become public?
The Palestinian leadership, and President Arafat himself, were clear in their positive response to the US peace ideas. Now we are waiting to see if the US can impose its position on Israel or else Israel will continue to procrastinate and avoid implementing the agreements it reached with the Palestinians. Otherwise, all tours to the region, whether by Dennis Ross or by others, will simply become a waste of time. The Palestinian position is supported by the Arab countries and is also backed by the European Union. I believe it is about time to exert pressure on Israel to implement the agreements or at least the US ideas that do not meet all the Palestinian demands, yet they form a first step towards achieving the rest of the Palestinian demands.
Will there be a four-way meeting in London?
In reality there will be no tripartite or four-way meetings in London. We welcomed any European efforts or any European participation in London or in other place. We support the European, Egyptian, Jordanian and US presence in the peace process. There is an invitation to President Arafat for a meeting in London on May 4. What will happen next depends to a great extent on the outcome of diplomatic efforts that are expected between today and early next month.
Would Ross' visit this time differ from previous trips?
Ross is coming to the region with a new US attempt to achieve a breakthrough. The US has said that it is still exerting efforts to convince Israel to accept the US ideas. There are also European efforts to convince Israel to accept these ideas. Let us wait and see.
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