On the meeting of the Palestinian groups in Damascus
Palestine, Politics, 12/14/1998
The opposition Palestinian groups in the "General National Conference" which convened the conference on Saturday and Sunday in Damascus rejected the decision to amend the Palestinian National Charter, taken by the central council of the PLO in Gaza on Thursday.
The groups also opposed the decision expected to be adopted today in Gaza by the Palestinian National Council in the presence of US President Bill Clinton asserting the decision adopted by the central council to cancel articles in the Palestinian national charter call for eliminating the state of Israel.
The General National Conference was attended by some 300 Palestinian figures from the Diaspora, invited to take part as members. Also in attendance were Arab organizations opposing the Oslo agreements from Egypt, Algeria and Lebanon.
The Jordanian authorities prevented Jordanian opposition organizations and some 60 Palestinians from going to Syria, including the chairman of the political bureau of the Hamas movement, Khaled Mishal, and the two members of the movement's political bureau, Mousa Abu Marzouk and Ibrahim Ghousheh. Hamas' representative in Amman, Muhammad Nazal, attended the conference because he was in Damascus one week earlier before convening the conference.
Behind the scenes and on the eve of convening the conference there were critical disputes between the Islamic Jihad movement and the Democratic front for the Liberation of Palestine over the front's support for a "just, balanced and comprehensive peace," whereas it had been agreed that the conference would stress three "nos": no to Oslo and the subsequent agreement, no to abrogating the Palestinian National Charter, no to abrogating the PLO, and yes to armed struggle.
In the first day for the conference an open controversy took place between the secretary general of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Nayef Hawatemah, and one member of the Fatah al-Intifada movement, because of contradicting viewpoints. Spokesman for Fatah - the Intifada, Abu Khaled al-Amleh, accused Hawatemah of trying to dismember the Palestinian consensus.
Behind the scenes the Islamic movements rumored that Hawatemah seeks to foil the conference, respond to Arafat's request to return to Gaza and have a role beside Arafat in the Palestinian self-rule authority.
On the second day of the conference another dispute emerged between the People's and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine on one side and the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, led by Ahmad Jibril, and Fatah - the Intifada, on the other side.
The "general command" and Fatah - the Intifada demanded the establishment of an alternative PLO and called for considering the opposition General Palestinian Conference as a Palestinian national council. But the People's and Democratic fronts, which are members of the PLO, opposed this proposal.
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