Radicals Urge Palestinians to Foil PLO-Israel Accord

From Associated Press

Ten radical groups opposed to the PLO-Israel peace accord urged Palestinians on Saturday to foil the pact, warning it could lead to a Palestinian civil war.

Meanwhile, in Gaza City, 10,000 Muslim fundamentalist opponents of the pact rallied Saturday to denounce Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat as a traitor.

It was the largest protest organized by the Islamic hard-line group Hamas since the agreement was signed in Washington last Monday.

Opponents of the accord, which provides for limited Palestinian self-rule in the occupied Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho, hope to forge a front against Arafat.

They charge that Arafat, who witnessed the signing of the accord, has abandoned the goal of an independent Palestinian state.

Arafat argues the autonomy agreement eventually will lead to independence.

The 10 radical groups issued a statement condemning the agreement as a means "to establish a Greater Israel which plans to control the Middle East economically, politically and militarily."

It was especially critical of Arafat, saying he "has been misleading the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims . . . to promote the disgraceful agreement, which implies the dangers of a civil war among the Palestinians."

The groups called on Palestinians to intensify efforts to scuttle the pact with the goal of the "full liberation of Palestine, with its capital in Jerusalem."

The opposition groups, while united against the pact, have widely differing ideologies and may find it hard to coordinate any campaign against it.

They range from the Muslim fundamentalist Hamas, which rejects any dealings with the Jewish state and calls for its destruction, to radical PLO factions that advocate working through Palestinian institutions to subvert the accord.

Hamas leader Mustafa Lidawi described the PLO-Israel accord as "signed by a gang that does not represent the will of the Palestinian people."

At the Hamas gathering in Gaza, Sheik Sallim Salamah, the head of Gaza's Islamic University, called to avoid bloodshed among Palestinians.

"The enemy had gambled that we will fight each other, but the message from the deportees in Lebanon is to cooperate," said the sheik, one of a group of Islamic militants whom Israel allowed to return after deporting them to Lebanon.

Israel expelled more than 400 Muslim fundamentalists last Dec. 17, accusing them of subversive activities. But it allowed almost 200 of them to come back earlier this month, and has been releasing them from prison in small batches.

Speaker after speaker at the rally condemned Arafat for recognizing Israel without ending the occupation, guaranteeing the removal of Jewish settlements and securing a commitment for a future Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Earlier Saturday, Syrian President Hafez Assad met with a visiting Iranian diplomat in Damascus to help coordinate opposition to the PLO-Israel pact.

Iran has rejected the peace agreement, calling it a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.

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