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ALGIERS : A Crucial Decision

The 450-member Palestine National Council is expected to debate through the rest of this week what may be one of the most important decisions in its history--whether to endorse the proposed, U.S.-backed peace conference on the Middle East.

The congress, in which Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction controls the largest number of seats, acts as a Palestinian parliament-in-exile. A rising radical tide sees ground rules for the proposed conference as so loaded in Israel’s favor as to make it a sellout.

But moderates, recalling a litany of lost opportunities in the past, see it as the best chance likely to come along any time soon to salvage some dignity from the extraordinarily bitter and longstanding Palestinian-Israeli conflict.


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