Repercussions of last week’s attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have been felt throughout the world,but particularly in the Middle East. In the Gaza Strip, where some 700,000 of the Palestinian residents live asrefugees, Palestinians say the military crackdown has intensified in the occupied territories.
Since last September, almost none of the 40,000 Gazans who worked in Israel have been able to cross the border. TheUnited Nations estimates that the unemployment rate has shot up to about 50 percent from 25 percent.
We go now to Bassam Abu Sharif, once considered one of the most dangerous Palestinian terrorists, now special advisorto President Yassar Arafat, and working for peace in the Middle East.
Bassam Abu Sharif was dubbed the face of terror by Time Magazine because of his role in the multiple hijackingand then spectacular demolition of Pam-Am, Swiss Air, and TWA aircrafts in Jordan in 1970. No one was killed in thehijackings. Three years later the Israeli secret police tried to assassinate Abu-Sharif by mailing him a letter bomb.The bomb exploded, blowing off four of his fingers and depriving him of his mobility. That was seven days afterGhassan Kanafani was assassinated by a car bomb. Abu Sharif, who was a member of Popular Front for the Liberation ofPalestine, has sustained 37 wounds on his body from various attempts on his life. In 1978, he became Special Advisorto President Yasser Arafat and joined the PLO.
In 1988, Abu-Sharif broke with many of his associates and became the first PLO official to urge the recognition ofIsrael— which the PLO did a few months later at a UN General Assembly meeting in Geneva. Abu Sharif authored a peaceinitiating article which called for negotiating peace with the Israelis. Since then, Abu Sharif has worked tonegotiate two states solution in the historic land of Palestine.
- Bassam Abu-Sharif, special advisor to Yassar Arafat in the occupied territories.
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