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Sunday Morning News

Palestinian Parliament Expected to Not Declare an Independent Palestinian State

Aired September 10, 2000 - 9:08 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Some news from the Middle East relating to the peace process, as we told you just a few moments ago.

Apparently, the parliament, the Palestinian parliament, willing to delay a declaration of statehood, a real sticking point in the peace process.

CNN's Jerrold Kessel joining us from Gaza city with the latest on that -- Jerrold.

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All indications are that the Palestinian parliament the PCC, which is set to reconvene in just under two hours from now for its final session of this two-day meeting, will indeed accept Yasser Arafat's recommendation to postpone the planned declaration of statehood for an independent Palestinian state.

That was to have taken place next week on September 13th, when the peace process with Israel was to formally run its course. And, we understand, that, from in the council, they are amenable to that proposal from Yasser Arafat.

At the same time, we understand that the council will reconvene or the proposal will be for it to meet again November 15th, the anniversary of when the Palestinians first declared their statehood, when they were in exile in Algeria in 1988.

And then they will also reassess the state of the peace process with Israel, but at this stage, that seems to be very, very much in the doldrums to say the least.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NABIL ABU RUDEINEH, PALESTINIAN COUNCIL MEMBER: The chance is eroding, and I think the coming four weeks are very critical, but nobody's optimistic because the Israeli government is still insisting not to implement the real accords which had been signed. The agreements which say two for two, the land occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem.

Without that, this is the Palestinian line, this is the Arab- Islamic line. Without that, there won't be any agreement, there won't be any peace. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KESSEL: And that, we understand, that statement from Yasser Arafat's top personal aide, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, came after Mr. Arafat spoke again with President Clinton, and was asked by the U.S. leader to give the peace process one final chance of four or five weeks of negotiations, which Mr. Abu Rudeineh says the Palestinians have agreed to do, together with the Israelis under U.S. auspices; to try, he says, to bring that peace process to a successful conclusion.

But speaking to Israeli -- Israel's top negotiator, the acting foreign minister, this morning, we understand from the Israeli side they know nothing about such an intensive negotiating effort about to get under way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZIAD ABU AMR, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: I am not aware that any talks between us and the Palestinians are scheduled. I will be, Tuesday morning, in New York for the general assembly and I will be, probably, meeting members of the American peace team.

So, if we, indeed, develop contacts with the Palestinians, this will be all right with us. But, again, I would like to insist, the question is not sitting and talking, but, on what premises?

Not to return to square one. This is an Israeli position with regard to all issues, including Jerusalem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KESSEL: But that certainly reflects the kind of crossed-purposes with which the Israelis and Palestinians seem to be at. That they're not even agreed on engaging in this final negotiating effort,

But, at least, one issue today that could be shoved aside, a potential stumbling block, that the declaration, unilaterally, of Palestinian statehood, that seems as if it will not take place.

We'll be following it in the later hours of this evening when that declaration comes out here from Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Gaza City.

I'm Jerrold Kessel, CNN, reporting live from Gaza.

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