Aides Say Arafat Will Escalate Rebellion in Territories With AM-Israel, Bjt
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) _ PLO chief Yasser Arafat will heighten the Arab rebellion in the Israeli- occupied territories, senior aides said Wednesday after meeting with Syrian leaders to cement a new ″strategic alliance.″
Vice President Abdul-Halim Khaddam met until early Wednesday with Arafat’s aides. President Hafez Assad and Arafat took steps toward reconciliation earlier this week after a five-year feud.
Farouk Kaddoumi, who serves as foreign minister of the Palestine Liberation Organization, led a delegation of three other top officials of Fatah, the PLO’s main guerrilla component and Arafat’s power base: Hayel Abdel-Hamid, Mohammed Rateb Ghoneim and Hani Hassan.
The meeting ended at 2 a.m. Kaddoumi and Abdel-Hamid left later for Tunis, the PLO headquarters.
Hassan and Ghoneim remained in Damascus for further talks on joint action against Israel and the latest U.S. peace proposals for the Middle East.
George Habash, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the second-largest PLO faction after Arafat’s Fatah, told reporters Arafat and Assad still differed on several points.
He said one was Arafat’s continuing good relations with Egypt, which Syria condemns for its 1979 peace treaty with Israel, and another was PLO relations with ″some Israelis.″ Habash, a staunch ally of Syria, did not elaborate.
Other points of conflict Habash mentioned were the Palestinian role in Lebanon, where Syria is the main power broker, and how to improve Fatah’s relations with pro-Syrian Palestinian factions.
Before leaving Damascus, Kaddoumi said no differences remained between Syria and the PLO and ″only details″ had to be worked out.
Arafat went to Baghdad from Damascus on Tuesday. PLO officials in the Iraqi capital said he would meet with his commanders ″to discuss ways of escalating the Palestinian uprising.″
Attending will be members of the Emergency Committee set up in January to coordinate Palestinian protests of Israeli rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that began Dec. 8, the officials reported. At least 174 Palestinians have been killed in the occupied terrotories.
PLO military commander Khalil Wazir led the committee but was assassinated April 16 at his home in Tunis, apparently by an Israeli commando unit.
The slaying of Wazir, widely respected by both Arafat loyalists and opponents, is seen as the catalyst that brought Arafat and Assad together. Arafat arrived Sunday on his first visit to Syria since Assad expelled him on June 24, 1983.
Both leaders favor bolstering the Palestinian rebellion against Israeli occupation and oppose the U.S. peace plan proposed in March by Secretary of State George P. Shultz.
It calls for limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza, far short of the independent state Syria and the PLO demand.
Kaddoumi said the PLO and Syria will seek ″Arab consensus″ on the U.S. plan and on a strategy for the Palestinian uprising at a special Arab summit planned for early June in Algiers.