Denial From Arafat Former Aide

bassamabusharif.jpg

(A photo of Bassam Abu-Sharif, dubbed “The Face of Terror” by TIME Magazine)

I believe the report from the British archives, personally. Those behind the British National Archives are more or less a disinterested party, and if true, the report is (more) damaging to the reputation of members of the late Yasser Arafat’s leadership for dissuading him from declaring a Palestinian state in the 1970s. Thus, denials like this from Bassam Abu-Sharif are to be expected. Especially as Abu-Sharif, an ex-member of the PFLP (Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine) who joined the PLO and became special advisor to Arafat in 1978, used to be very radical, particularly during the time period in question here. He is said to have made a turnaround towards backing peace initiatives in later years. See below for a short background on Abu-Sharif from the Egyptian Al-Ahram Weekly Newspaper:

Abu-Sharif spent most of his life fighting back: dubbed “the face of terror” by the American magazine Time, he was a member of the politburo of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, in which capacity he allegedly masterminded a series of airplane hijackings (the multiple hijackings of Pan-Am, Swiss Air, and TWA aircrafts in Jordan in 1970), survived a letter bomb from the Israeli secret services, losing several fingers and an eye, and went on to become Yasser Arafat’s confidant and spokesman.

Arafat aide denies claims made in British intelligence reports (Ma’an News Agency)

The private aide to late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, Bassam Abu Sharif, on Sunday countered the British intelligence reports which alleged that several Palestinian dignitaries had advised Arafat to avoid declaring an independent Palestinian state in the 1970s.

Abu Sharif said, “The truth is that the Palestinian dignitaries inquired about the declaration of a Palestinian state, wishing to play a role in its declaration.”

He also said that then-Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was extremely enthusiastic about the suggestion and had said, “It is your opportunity because wars lead to desired ends. I waged war and this is your opportunity, so join me.”

President Arafat, Abu Sharif said, was equally enthusiastic, but some Arab officials advised him to coordinate with Jordan, as Jordan was in charge of the West Bank, according to international law, and Egypt was in charge of the Gaza Strip.

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