Military Governor Meets With Palestinians
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israel’s military governor for the West Bank met with 25 PLO-affilitated Palestinian activists on the eve of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s departure for Washington, a spokesman for the military administration said today.
Palestinian sources said the meeting Sunday was intended to show that Israel can find negotiating partners who are not members of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Shamir’s Likud bloc has ruled out dealing with the PLO, which it views as a terrorist organization. Washington opened talks with the PLO in December after PLO chief Yasser Arafat recognized Israel’s right to exist and renounced terrorism.
The PLO has declared a Palestinian state, which it would reportedly like to create in Israeli-occupied territories.
An aide to Shamir said the prime minister will bring to Washington a peace plan offering elections in the occupied lands and Israeli troop withdrawal from major cities in exchange for a cease-fire in the Palestinian uprising.
However, Shamir would still refuse even indirect talks with the PLO, said Yossi Ben-Aharon, a Shamir adviser.
″We are not ready for indirect talks with the PLO through the United States, and this we’ll make totally clear to the American government,″ Ben- Aharon told Israel Television.
Arabs who participated in Sunday’s meeting said the head of the military administration in the West Bank, Brig. Gen. Shaike Erez, asked them to stop the almost 16-month Palestinian rebellion in the occupied territories and accept an Israeli proposal for elections.
″We will not stop the uprising and hold elections,″ said Adnan Hindi, one of those who met with Erez. ″We understand their game.″
Hindi said he told Erez that Palestinians would only accept elections under U.N. auspices and after an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories.
″Holding elections under occupation is not acceptable because it is not free and democratic,″ he said.
A spokesman for the military administration said Erez met with 25 Palestinians who support Arafat’s Fatah faction of the PLO, Marxist PLO groups, and the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas movement. They are not formally PLO members.
″He met with members of a variety of Palestinian streams of thought,″ military administration spokesman Olivier Rapovicz said.
Rapovicz said the meeting was one of dozens held between Israeli military figures and Palestinians in the occupied territories over the last few months.
He said the talks demonstrated that Palestinians are willing to talk with Israeli figures despite a ban on such meetings by the underground leadership of the uprising.
The PLO-affiliated Unified National Leadership of the Uprising last week warned Palestinians not to meet with the military administration, saying the talks were ″an attempt to create an alternative to the PLO.″
One Palestinian was killed in the rebellion Sunday, raising the overall death toll to 418. Eighteen Israelis also have died.
In the West Bank town of Hebron, police detained a Jewish settler for the fatal shooting Thursday of a Palestinian, police said today.
Arab reporters have accused Jewish settlers from the nearby Kiryat Arab settlement in the shooting of Tareq Awad Fatah Amir, 23. He died Saturday.