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The BBC's Richard Miron in Jerusalem:
"Arafat has been drumming up support at home and abroad for a future Palestinian state"
 real 28k

Sunday, 2 July, 2000, 20:24 GMT 21:24 UK
Palestinian statehood 'irreversible'
PLO chairman Yasser Arafat with parliamentary speaker Ahmad Qurai
Palestinian leaders are serious about statehood
Senior Palestinian officials have confirmed that the PLO leadership is determined to declare an independent state this year.

PLO leader Yasser Arafat told the organisation's central council that the peace process with Israel was in crisis and the Palestinians were sure to go ahead and proclaim statehood.



The Palestinian people are determined to declare an independent state and there is solid international support

Yasser Arafat
"The proclamation of the Palestinian state is irreversible," Mr Arafat said, according Nabil Amr, a cabinet minister in the self-rule Palestinian authority.

There are fears that such a declaration might spark violence as Israel says it would respond by annexing parts of the occupied Palestinian territories.

"The Israelis might impose a seizure of Palestinian areas, might starve them," Mr Arafat is reported to have told the closed meeting.


Palestinians opposing concession to Israel in peace talks
Gaza demonstrations remind Arafat of his obligations to his people
"They may take measures that would lead to confrontation, so all the options are open," he reportedly added.

But he insisted that the Palestinian people enjoyed the solid support at an international level which would facilitate recognition of their state.

Slow progress

Israel and the Palestinians have fallen behind the schedule for meeting a 13 September deadline for a final peace deal between the two sides.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak repeated his call on Sunday for a US-hosted summit to try to move the peace process forward,

Last week, American mediation efforts failed to bring agreement on a summit, which Washington believes is vital to bridging the gaps between the two sides.

Yasser Arafat said the lack of progress on substantive issues did not merit convening a summit.

The Palestinians insist that more occupied land must be returned and more prisoners released before moving on to other matters in the peace process.

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See also:

21 Jun 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Barak's political battlefield
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28 Jun 00 | Middle East
Albright seeks peace summit
30 Jun 00 | Middle East
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