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Arafat Evasive As to Whether PLO Will Observe Ceasefire in South Lebanon

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Yasir Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, refused to give a direct “yes” or “no” when he was asked in an interview shown today whether the PLO would observe the ceasefire in south Lebanon ordered by the United Nations Security Council.

Interviewed in Beirut Friday on ABC-TV’s “Issues and Answers,” all Arafat would say is that he “offered all my facilities” to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) when he met with UN officials last week “so that they can be able to carry on with their task of the withdrawal of the Israelis from Lebanon.”

But he said he could not control Palestinian forces that were still in south Lebanon since “I am not there.” He noted that Israeli Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur said that Israel did not control every part of south Lebanon. “It is not my fault” if Gur does not control all areas where the Palestinians are in south Lebanon, Arafat said. “If he can, let him do it.”

Arafat stressed that Palestinians are in south Lebanon as part at an agreement with Lebanon endorsed by two Arab summit conferences at Riyadh and Cairo. He said the UN cannot abrogate this agreement. He noted he did not approve of the UN coming into the area but “Lebanon accepted it and we have to accept it” since it is Lebanese territory.

The PLO chief said that “I doubt” that Israel will completely withdraw from south Lebanon. He charged that the formation of the new army by south Lebanese Christians last week was an Israeli “trick” to remain in south Lebanon.

ORDERED MARCH II RAID

In an acrimonious exchange with his interviewers, Arafat said he ordered the El Fatah raid in which 33 Israelis were killed March II. But he said it was a “big lie” that the terrorists killed the Israeli civilians, claiming that it was the Israeli troops that blew up the bus hijacked by the terrorists. However, he avoided answering how others were killed earlier during the attack.

Arafat charged that the Carter Administration “retreated” from its support of self-determination for the Palestinian people. “You are controlled by blackmail of the Israeli lobby in America,” he said.

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