The JPost has a rather silly piece today reporting that U.S. President George Bush will not visit Arafat’s tomb, and will not lay a wreath on Arafat’s tomb, when he visits Israel and the West Bank from 9-11 or 12 January. The JPost reporter, Khaled Abu Toameh, said that “Palestinian Authority officials on Monday expressed deep disappointment”, but he eventually added that “they were not surprised”. Of course not! Nobody would expect Bush to do anything of the sort. Khaled Abu Toameh, however, keeps going, and is not in the least embarassed. He added: “Bush, who is also expected to visit Jericho and Bethlehem, does not even plan to pass near the tomb … The official said the PA leadership had decided not to make a big issue out of the visit to Arafat’s mausoleum to avoid creating a crisis with the US.”.
This is a totally hyped angle. The JPost piece is posted here.
IMEMC, meanwhile, reported an interesting bit of news: “Yasser Abed Rabbo, the secretary general of the executive committee in the Palestinian Liberation organization, PLO, stated on Monday that the PLO National Council will meet soon and all Palestinians are invited to join”.
What does that mean — all Palestinians are invited to join??? It’s true, there are already something like 600 members, but they have been selected in various ways. Does he mean Hamas? Negotiations have been going on for a year or more on bringing Hamas into the PLO. But, the big problem seems to be how many, or what percentage, of the PNC seats they will be awarded. Hamas says they should be given seats in the PNA in corresponding proportion to the number of seats they won in the Palestinian Legislative Council. But Mahmoud Abbas and others have rejected this out of hand. In this case, Abbas may be right — the PNC is supposed to represent all the Palestinians, whether in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, or in neighboring countries, or even around the world. Hamas’ electoral victory was only in the West Bank and Gaza, and the percentage of seats they should get in the PNC should be pro-rated by calculating not only what they won in the PLC elections, but then divided in half — because the number of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza is about half of the total estimated number of Palestinians on earth.
The IMEMC piece reported that Abed Rabbo “added that the current council will meet in January 2008 in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and on the agenda there will be discussions about forming a new council. In addition Abed Rabo stated that the council is open for all Palestinians to join. The Palestinian official also said that the council will keep its commitments to the Palestinian National demands and will keep the original demands of the PLO which were first made when the organization was founded in 1988. Abed Rabo assured that the council will make 2008 the year in which Palestinians will get their rights and have an independent Palestinian state through negotiations. He added that the negotiations will be based on the Palestinians National demands and will not be changed”. This IMEMC reportage is posted here.