Ellensburg meeting is cradle of PLO talks, state doctor says

by Blaine Schulz, Seattle Times staff reporter

The end of the long U.S. boycott of the Palestine Liberation Organization was influenced by what a group of Democrats did in Ellensburg last May and in Olympia last June, a Palestinian American from Ephrata, Grant County, said yesterday.

Dr. Mohammad Said, a family physician who was born in Palestine, stopped in Seattle yesterday on his way back to Ephrata from Geneva, Switzerland, where he helped promote a draft resolution for a comprehensive peace for Israel and the Palestinian organization.

As a delegate, Said explained that he had a short discussion with Yasser Arafat, PLO chairman, about a proposed peace resolution to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Arafat, he said, was grateful for efforts by people involved in the peace process, including those from Washington state.

Washington state Democratic convention resolution writers “were in the front line, and we should be proud we were a part of that history,” Said added as he explained how the platform writers in Ellensburg and Olympia had a hand in the resolution that enabled face to face talks to take place in Algiers, Algeria; Geneva and Tunisia. The Arab Israeli peace resolution drafted by a 12 member Democratic state platform committee in Ellensburg was approved at the Democratic state convention in Olympia a month later.

That document, along with in put from people in other places in the world, became, without much change, the essence of a draft document approved in Algiers and Geneva, explained Said.

The Ephrata physician, who called himself a Muslim and Palestinian American who wants peace for the people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, was invited to be a PLO delegate to the Geneva talks held last Sunday, a forerunner to the first official direct talks held in Tunisia yesterday. “This is the first time in 40 years there’s a chance to resolve this conflict, but it’s a complex issue that needs lots of negotiations and patience,” Said added.

Said was referring to Arafat’s renouncement of acts of terrorism, recognition of Israel’s right to exist and the PLO leader’s affirmation that he would be consistent in his private and public statements.