Poll Indicates Majority Backs Shamir Refusal to Talk with PLO
JERUSALEM (AP) _ A survey released Friday indicated majority support for Yitzhak Shamir’s refusal to deal with the PLO, but President Bush said he would try to persuade the prime minister ″something good might come″ from talks.
Shamir and Bush are to confer in Washington on April 6.
Israel radio and Arab sources said two Palestinians died of wounds suffered earlier, and Arab reports said Israeli soldiers wounded 25 Palestinians during protests in nine towns and refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
One of the wounded was said to be a 4-month-old girl hit in the head by a rubber bullet.
The two deaths raised to 407 the number of Palestinians killed since an uprising began in the occupied territories more than 15 months ago. Eighteen Israelis have been slain.
Seven moderate Palestinian leaders in Nablus, the West Bank’s largest city, have been threatened with death if they continue meeting with Israeli officials about peace, Arab sources reported.
Friday’s survey by the independent Modain Ezrahi organization said 56 percent of 1,251 Israeli Jews chosen at random said ″no″ when asked: ″Do you believe there is room for negotiating with the PLO and if so, toward what end?″ The survey’s margin of error was given as plus or minus 2 percent.
A survey conducted in December indicated 54 percent of Israelis favored talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization, on condition it ceased attacking Israeli targets.
PLO chairman Yasser Arafat renounced terrorism in December and recognized Israel’s right to exist. The United States initiated contacts after Arafat’s public declaration and the second formal meeting was held Wednesday in Tunis.
Rachel Israeli of Modain Ezrachi attributed the change in response between December and March to the fact that organization asked only about talks without mentioning an end to terrorism or any other condition.
″Many people do not believe the PLO has stopped their terror activities,″ she said.
Bush was quoted in an interview published Friday in the Washington Times as saying of his forthcoming meeting with Shamir: ″I will tell him that the talks that we ... are having with the PLO representatives there in Tunis are good things″ and would try to persuade the Israeli leader ″something good might come out of this kind of discussion.″
Asked whether he would urge Shamir to join the talks, the paper said, Bush replied: ″I don’t know what I’ll say to him about that, but I’ll say to him that we have got to move the peace process forward. We may, by then, be ready with some specific ideas.″
Israeli news reports have said Bush planned to propose a first stage of negotiations with Palestinians in the occupied territories, with the PLO joining talks later on the final status of the territories.
Arab sources, speaking privately, said the death threats involved two masked Arab youths from a dissident PLO faction who visited the Palestinian moderates March 17.
They identified the faction as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, led by Dr. George Habash and based in Syria.
The Jerusalem Post said the men were threatened at knifepoint. It said supporters of Arafat were among them, including Dr. Hatem Abu Ghazaleh, a former member of the Nablus city council.
Abu Ghazaleh was reached by telephone and denied receiving threats.
A leaflet circulated in Arab East Jerusalem urged Palestinians to freeze contacts with Israeli officials to prevent Shamir from pursuing plans to circumvent the PLO in peace talks, Israel television reported.
In an interview with the daily Maariv, Shamir was quoted as saying he would pursue secret talks with non-PLO Palestinians.
″There are among them wise people, intellectuals,″ Shamir said. ″I am not going to reveal their names because it may bring them harm.″
Hadashot, another daily, said he might have the Shin Bet secret police investigate a leak last week of a secret military report that concluded there were no non-PLO Palestinians with whom Israel could negotiate peace. A Shamir aide denied the report.
Marwan Abu Taman, 19, of Tulkarem in the West Bank, died Friday of chest wounds suffered in a confrontation with soldiers two days earlier, Arab reports said. Israel radio said Mohammed Aziz Nasser, 23, died at a hospital in Arab east Jerusalem the day after an explosive device went off in his hands.