TEL AVIV (Aug. 23)
Some 1,600 PLO terrorists left Beirut today for South Yemen and Tunisia.South Yemen, the most Communist-oriented of the Arab countries has in the past provided training facilities for leftwing terrorist groups from around the world. Tunisia has promised to allow the PLO a continue diplomatic activities but not military nor terrorist activities.
Most of today’s evacuees were members of two extremist leftwing groups, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, led by George Habash, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, led by Nayef Hawatmeh.
Today’s departure of the terrorists from west Beirut to the port of Beirut, an area which is guarded by the Lebanese army and French soldiers, was delayed for about an hour when a jeep carrying PLO men exploded when it struck a land mine that had been planted by the PLO during the earlier fighting with Israeli forces.
The departure of a group of some 1,000 terrorists from Beirut yesterday was delayed for about five hours when Israeli officials complained that the evacuees had taken 21 British-made jeep-like vehicles, 41 anti-tank rocket propelled grenade launchers and some of their wives and children aboard a ship that was bound for Cyprus, and eventually for Tunis.
BEGIN, LEWIS ARRANGED A COMPROMISE
The ship was finally allowed to sail after a compromise was worked out between Premier Menachem Begin and Ambassador Samuel Lewis of the United States. Under the arrangement, the U.S. was to ensure that the jeeps placed aboard the ship in violation of the evacuation agreement would be taken off the ship at Naples, on the way to Tunis.
According to Israel Television, the evacuation procedure had been complicated by the fact that U.S. special envoy Philip Habib, who had been instrumental in working out the evacuation procedures had agreed personally to the loading of the jeeps aboard the ship without informing the Israelis.
Israeli officials say they do not object, to wives and children of PLO evacuees going with them, but that under no circumstances will they be allowed to be counted as part of the list of PLO fighters. Israel originally demanded, a list of names of the PLO members to be evacuated, and then agreed that this list be submitted to Habib to ensure that the PLO would not have substitutes leave Beirut while dangerous terrorists would remain behind to form a nucleus of a renewed PLO presence in the city.
According to Israeli sources, the Lebanese army and French troops counted the women and children as official PLO members at the dockside in the post of Beirut yesterday.
Attention in the Lebanese capital was divided today between the port area where the evacuation was proceeding amidst the firing of rifles and shouts by PLO members and supporters proclaiming the departure as a sign of victory for the PLO, and the Lebanese Military College in feast Beirut where the Lebanese Parliament was meeting in special session to elect a new President.
Here, also, wild firing erupted when the Parliament Speaker announced that a quorum of 62 Deputies had finally gathered. Until the last minute it appeared possible that Syrian and leftwing Lebanese elements would succeed in their plans to frighten Deputies into staying away, sometimes under the threat of death, to prevent the Parliament from voting for the only declared candidate for President, Bashir Gemayel. Within minutes of the announcement that a quorum was present, the Deputies quickly cost their, ballot and elected Gemayel, leader of the predominately Maronite Christian Lebanese Front. (See separate story.)
Observers in the Beirut port area said the PLO men already aboard the evacuation ship, who had been listening with evident pleasure at the shooting and shouting celebration from their friends were astonished and bewildered when they heard sounds of shooting from east Beirut where the election was taking place.
TERRORISTS VOW THEY WILL NOT SURRENDER
Meanwhile, the first group of PLO terrorists evacuated from Beirut Saturday arrived by plane in Jordan and Iraq yesterday King Hussein of Jordan greeted each member of the group as they got off the plane, saying: “We have a long struggle ahead …. but we will win in the end.” The unarmed terrorists, members of the Jordan-based Palestine Liberation Army, raised their arms in a victory solute and chanted: “We will never surrender, we will win.”
In a rare public reference to the September 1970 fighting during which the Jordanian army massacred PLO members and expelled the organization from the country, Hussein said “Whatever happened in the past was a family affair.” He did not say whether Jordan would be willing to grant amnesty to PLO fighters with Jordanian passports and security risk records in Jordan.