ARAB-AFRICAN AFFAIRS - Aug. 3 - Mandela To Push For Mid-East Accord.
Former South African Pres. Mandela pledges to contact world leaders in an attempt to break the continuing deadlock between Israel and the
Palestinians. (Mandela is responding to an appeal from Palestinian Pres.
Arafat who makes a surprise visit to South Africa after a tour of Arab
countries.) Mandela turns down an invitation from Arafat to mediate,
saying achieving peace in the ME had to be a collective effort. Arafat
also meets current South African Pres. Thabo Mbeki, and wins formal
support for his plan to declare a Palestinian state in September - with
or without a deal with Israel. In reference to Arafat's flexibility
in 1999 over Palestinian statehood, Mbeki says: "Everybody who
advised the postponement, which carried risks, has a moral and political
obligation to respond in the same way that the Palestinian authority responded to our request". Arafat says after his talks that a Sept.
13 declaration of statehood would be a legitimate step, as peace
negotiations with Israel were to have been concluded by that date. He
says: "We are in need of his [Mandela's] help and
continuous efforts in this very important process in Palestine".
Mandela says he could not single-handedly break the impasse, adding:
"I am prepared to go the whole way to help". He says he would
call US Pres. Clinton and the leaders of Britain, France, Egypt and
Saudi Arabia and urge them to work together to get the ME talks back on
track. (In 1999, Mandela proposed a 3-point peace plan for the region.)