Palestinian Spokesman Expresses Shock at Egyptian Break
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ The Palestine Liberation Organization today sharply criticized Egypt’s decision to shut down the PLO’s Egyptian operations.
Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, PLO chief information officer, said in a telephone interview from Tunis, the Tunisian capital, that the executive committee headed by Yasser Arafat will meet this week to consider Egypt’s move.
Abdel-Rahman said: ″The Palestinian people did not expect this reprehensible and strange decision by Egypt.″
″The decision came as a violent shock to the Palestinian people and leadership,″ he said. ″We believe it was not justified at all.″
Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel-Meguid announced Monday that Egypt decided to close PLO offices in Egypt. He said it was in response to a resolution by last week’s session of the Palestine National Council restricting council contacts with Egypt because of Egypt’s peace with Israel.
The PLO facilities ordered closed included the main PLO office; the office of Fatah, the PLO’s largest faction; the news agency WAFA; and the Palestine writers union. The offices of PLO labor and women’s unions were not affected.
The Egyptian statement left expulsion in doubt, but government sources said today no expulsions were planned. The sources insisted on anonymity.
The Palestine National Council is the PLO’s parliament, its highest policy- making body. In adopting last week’s resolution, the council cited a 1983 resolution spurning ties with Cairo so long as the treaty Egypt signed with Israel in 1979 remains in force.
The new measure spoke of PLO support for ″Egypt’s nationalist, democratic and popular forces″ to force Cairo to renounce the 1978 Camp David accords that served as a basis for the treaty making Egypt the only Arab country at peace with the Jewish state.
An Egyptian Cabinet minister, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Cairo considers this an insult and ″brazen interference″ in Egypt’s domestic affairs.
However, Abel-Rahman said: ″The PLO leadership repeatedly has declared its keenness to preserve relations with Egypt ... We had expected Cairo to support Palestinian unity.″
He referred to a reconciliation between Arafat and two Syrian-backed PLO factions, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, led by George Habash, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, headed by Nayef Hawatmeh.
Both fell out with Arafat in 1983 and came to terms just before the council met in Algiers, the Algerian capital. The curb on ties with Egypt was a condition of the reconciliation.
The Egyptian statement Monday indicated Arafat bowed to Syria and the PLO factions in agreeing to the national council resolution.
Diplomatic sources said seven PLO offices in Cairo, with branches in the Mediterranean port of Alexandria, were affected by the closure order. They were shut down three hours before Abdel-Meguid’s announcement.
More than 50,000 Palestinians live in Egypt, including thousands of students afforded preferential enrollment and other facilities.
Abdel-Rahman said he did not know how many PLO personnel worked at the closed offices.