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U.S. Department of State
96/01/13 Remarks: Meeting in Gaza with Chairman Arafat
Office of the Spokesman


                          U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                           Office of the Spokesman

                                 (Jerusalem)
____________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                               January 13, 1996


                    REMARKS BY CHAIRMAN GASSER ARAFAT
              AND U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
                       AFTER THEIR MEETING IN GAZA

                                Ere, Gaza
                             January 13, 1996


CHAIRMAN ARAFAT:  We have to thank His Excellency for this visit, 
especially in these very important circumstances which we are passing 
one week before our elections.  We have to thank His Excellency for his 
efforts, including also the participation of a high delegation from 
America to supervise and to arrange the elections of the Palestinian 
Council.  At the same time, we had an opportunity to discuss in detail 
these elections and some of the problems which we are facing and asking 
His Excellency to facilitate for us these problems with the Israelis 
concerning Hebron and other places.  At the same time, I have the 
opportunity to thank His Excellency for what he is doing to push the 
Peace Process, not only with the Palestinians, not only with the 
Jordanians, not only with the Egyptians, but also with the Syrians and 
the Lebanese, so that we can have a comprehensive, lasting, peaceful 
solution in the whole area.  At the same time, I have to thank President 
Carter who will come to participate with us, heading the American team 
for the elections.

Please convey to His Excellency President Clinton, [thanks] for his  
permanent support, which we have found especially from your side during 
the economic conference which took place in Paris recently.  At the same 
time, I had explained to His Excellency all the situation here in these 
Palestinian territories, and the difficulties which we are facing from 
the economical point of view, and also he promised that he will continue 
supporting us according to what His Excellency, President Clinton had 
started from the beginning, to push the donors by all means, to continue 
implementing their promises.

Thank you, your Excellency.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  The Chairman and I had 
planned to get together last Tuesday in Paris at the Donors' Conference.  
Unfortunately, the weather in Washington made that impossible.  So, I 
thank you, Mr. Chairman, for rearranging your schedule so we could meet 
here this morning.  

As you know, the Donors' Conference in Paris was very successful.  The 
Conference core list of projects of 550 million dollars was 
oversubscribed by about 240 million dollars, and I think that's a 
reflection of the international community's desire to support this 
effort in Gaza and the West Bank.  For its part, the United States well 
on its way to meeting its pledge of 500 million dollars over a five-year 
period.  We have disbursed already over half of our pledge, in addition 
to humanitarian assistance and motor vehicles that we've made available.  
In Paris we allocated another 71 million dollars for particular 
projects, water projects, educational projects, and other projects to 
meet the needs of the Palestinians.

The Conference marked a new phase in the development of the Palestinian 
economy, one that coincides with the new phase in the implementation of 
the interim agreement.  The Palestinian Authority has done a good job in 
taking over responsibility for the major population centers in the West 
Bank.  I think we recognize the importance of continuing combating 
violence and terrorism, and I was very pleased this morning to have the 
Chairman once again emphasize his complete commitment to combating 
terrorism in all of the territories of the West Bank and Gaza.

As we all know, as the Chairman just said, just one week from now there 
will be a major milestone when the Palestinians go to the polls to elect 
their governing council and their leader.  We spent a good deal of time 
this morning discussing the elections, certainly a historic opportunity 
for the Palestinians to take the major step in building a democratic 
society.  I want to congratulate the Chairman and the people of the area 
for their efforts in this regard.  Of course, it is important that the 
elections be free and fair and as the Chairman has mentioned, there will 
be a number of groups observing the elections here.  A United States 
group headed by former President Carter and of course, our Consulate in 
Jerusalem will be observing the elections as well.  Elections will give 
an opportunity to lead to the establishment of institutions of law, 
institutions carrying out democratic principles including freedom of 
expression and the rule of law, respect for human rights and free market 
economy.

Mr. Chairman, I assure you that President Clinton and the United States 
want to continue to work with you to achieve these important goals.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, does that commitment to combat terrorism 
involve speaking out against terrorism?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes, I am sure it does, and it has.  The 
Chairman has been speaking out against terrorism and I think he has been 
taking very important steps to work with the authorities in the region 
to ensure that violence and terrorism shall be kept to an absolute 
minimum.

QUESTION (In Arabic):  How do you evaluate your talks with Mr. 
Christopher, and how do you see American assistance national authority?

CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (In Arabic):  With no doubt, I thank Mr. Christopher for 
this visit, especially at this time, a few days before elections, which 
will take place for the first time on Palestinian ground, to elect our 
legislative council and presidential elections. At the same time, I have 
to thank his Excellency very much for his position supporting the 
Palestinian Authority in many areas, including the support which 
President Clinton has referred to since the Declaration of Principles in 
Washington and urging donor countries to increase their donations and 
assistance for the Palestinian Authority.  At the same time, as I have 
just mentioned, that this effort made by his Excellency now, on many 
fronts, and on all Arab tracks, to push forward the Peace Process, is 
considered very important, because it moves toward a just and 
comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

QUESTION:  Chairman Arafat, I was wondering if you raised the 
assassination last week of the "Engineer" in your discussions with 
Secretary Christopher, and if you did, what you spoke about as regards 
that?

CHAIRMAN ARAFAT:  What I had mentioned from our Cabinet is clear and 
obvious concerning this issue.

QUESTION (In Arabic):  Mr. President, have you discussed with Mr. 
Christopher the progress that is taking place on the Israeli - Syrian 
track?

CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (In Arabic):  I was (assured) by Mr. Christopher about 
the positive movement which is taking place on the Syrian and Lebanese 
track.

QUESTION:  Are you disappointed that Hamas has announced it will not 
participate in the elections?

CHAIRMAN ARAFAT:  They had declared from the beginning that they will 
not participate officially, but as you know, many of the Islamic leaders 
had already participated in the election campaign, some of them here in 
Gaza, and others in the West Bank.

QUESTION (In Arabic):  How will the progress that is taking place 
between Israel and Syria affect Palestinian - Israeli final status 
negotiations?

CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (In Arabic):  This will be a catalyst for pushing the 
peace process forward in the region, because when we went to Madrid, we 
went to find a solution for the Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian and 
Palestinian tracks.  That is why we are keen that progress take place on 
the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, to enable us to achieve just and 
comprehensive peace in the region.
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