PLO packs its bags in Tunis

24 June 1994

PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat has told his staff to close down their Tunis offices by 30 June and prepare to move to their permanent offices in Gaza and the West Bank. No date has been set for Arafat's return, but he is expected to arrive in Jericho between late June and mid-July.

The PLO is still waiting for the Israelis to approve a list of 1,200 Palestinians who will make the return journey. But Arafat has already overcome one of the major hurdles which has so far delayed his return by winning commitments towards running the new administration. International donors said they would disburse $42 million to the self-rule administration at meeting in Paris on 9-10 June (see Gaza/West Bank).

In the self-rule area, difficulties still persist over the release of Palestinian prisoners. Israel's decision to make prisoners convicted of serious crimes sign an agreement not to venture outside the self-rule area for the remaining part of their prison sentences has angered Palestinians, who say it goes against the 4 May Cairo agreement.

However, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on 14 June levelled a similar criticism against the Palestinian authorities, saying their plans to have collaborators executed was also outside the Cairo agreement. He said the decision may delay the release of any more Palestinian prisoners.

Freij Abu Medien, who holds the justice portfolio in the Palestine National Authority, said on 15 June that Arafat was considering an amnesty for all collaborators, except those who continued to inform on Palestinians after the September signing of the declaration of principles.

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