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Monday, December 14, 1998 Published at 15:50 GMT

World: Middle East

Analysis: Revising the PLO's charter

Palestinians continue to implement the Wye agreement

By Middle East Correspondent Paul Adams

Despite the sense of crisis hanging over the peace process, Palestinian politicians have continued to implement aspects of the Wye River interim peace agreement.

Middle East correspondent Paul Adams: "The Americans are embarrassed."
In Gaza the Palestine Central Council recently voted by 81 to 7 to reaffirm changes in the PLO's charter which deny Israel's right to exist.

In doing so, they endorsed the contents of a letter sent by Yasser Arafat to President Clinton last January. In it the Palestinian leader spelled out precisely which clauses of the charter had already been revoked by a meeting of the larger Palestine National Council (PNC) in 1996.

The tortured process of revising the charter is supposed to culminate with the meeting of the PNC addressed by President Clinton.

Delegates at the meeting reaffirmed with a simple show of hands that the clauses in the Palestinian Charter calling for the destruction of Israel were null and void.

Disagreement on the vote

But Israel and the Palestinians had disagreed on whether or not there should be a vote.

Middle East
The Palestinians said the time for voting was over and pointed out that the Wye memorandum says only that PNC members should reaffirm their support for moves already taken.

But Israel's Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said he would not carry out another troop withdrawal from the West Bank if the PNC meeting passed without a vote.

The Americans are embarrassed - as long ago as April 1996 President Clinton announced that the PNC had already honoured its commitment to amend the charter.

US officials have only said that procedures at the PNC need to be clear, but have not spelled out what they think this means.

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