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Special Event

Palestinian Spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi Addresses National Press Club on Start of Peace Negotiations

Aired July 11, 2000 - 12:03 p.m. ET

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

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Hanan Ashrawi is the official spokeswoman for the Palestinian delegation here in Washington. She is now speaking at the National Press Club and we listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

HANA ASHRAWI, PALESTINIAN SPOKESWOMAN: Meeting of the Camp David summit have started and, right now, President Arafat is meeting with President Clinton in preparation for the first trilateral meeting that are scheduled to take place this afternoon. So you have a couple of bilateral meetings between President Arafat and President Clinton, and Prime Minister Barak and President Clinton, and then the first plenary would be this afternoon.

That question is not one of technicalities, actually. We are here today, actually, to assess a very grave and a very serious and tremendously significant occasion in the region. These talks taking place at Camp David will, in many ways, determine the course of the future for the whole region, not just for the Palestinians or the Israelis, but actually for the whole region.

I can very confidently say that President Arafat is here with the support of a national consensus in Palestine, based on the resolutions of the central council. The full commitment to the establishing of a Palestinian state by September 13th, through building the institutions and adopting the necessary steps and measures to ensure that we have a territorially viable democratic state this year.

Now, needless to say, the talks, as you know, the bilateral talks between Palestinians and Israelis have been plagued by a series of crisis and problems. And the fact that the previous interim phase agreements have not been fully implemented, the fact that we are still talking about the implementation of the third phase of redeployment, the safe passage, the economic agreements, the release of prisoners are indicative of a serious problem in the talks, whereby agreements, even if they are signed, are not automatically implemented. There is no power of accountability or enforcement to ensure full implementation of agreements.

We are also coming with the backdrop of increased Palestinian -- feeling of Palestinian grievance that life has become worse under the peace process, that the Israeli control is being exercised as occupier, both in terms of increased settlement activities, increased siege of Jerusalem, and unilateral actions to transform the city of Jerusalem.

And, of course, again, the refusal to release prisoners, which has become a very visceral human issue.

SHAW: Hana Ashrawi is the official spokeswoman for the Palestinian delegation here in Washington. When the Israelis hold their news conference we will cover that.

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