NEWS

Two ‘road maps’ for the Palestine issue

The World Youth Festival currently being held by the PASOK youth organization and International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) brought to Greece two of the best known figures in politics in the Middle East: Israeli Shimon Peres and Palestinian Farouk Qaddoumi. Their presence in Greece coincided with a period of intense activity on the Palestine question – where the much-vaunted «road map» played the catalyst, also in the broader Middle East, against a background of serious instability in postwar Iraq. Having shared the Nobel Prize with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, Peres, now leader of the opposition, is one of the most eminent figures in Israeli political history. The spiritual son of the founder of the State of Israel, Ben Gurion, Peres clashed with him, founded the labor party, served as prime minister for a number of years and was president of the Socialist International. His participation as foreign minister in Ariel Sharon’s government during the cleanup operations in the West Bank made him the butt of endless criticism, within and outside Israel. Farouk Qaddoumi, one of «the last fedayeen» and foreign minister of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), was a founding member of Al Fatah and is considered to be one of the most likely successors to Arafat, with whom he has a friendly and trusting relationship. Recognized by friends and enemies as incorruptible, he opposed the Oslo Peace Accord and was a fervent supporter of the Palestinian Intifada. A permanent resident of Tunisia, he represents the PLO in the Arab world and at international forums. In the following interviews the two politicians express contrasting views and assessments of the situation in the Middle East, the war in Iraq and its effects on the region.