TEL AVIV (Aug. 30)
PLO chief Yasir Arafat left Beirut today aboard the Greek cruise ship Atlantis, bound for Athens where he is expected to meet Greek leaders before going on to Tunis.
No confirmation was available here of a Yediot Aharonot report this morning that Israel had rejected a proposal by Arafat that he be accorded a fare well suited to a head of state. According to this report, Arafat had demanded that he be allowed to sail aboard a French naval vessel, with an air escort of American jet fighters.
Arafat was driven to the Beirut port area in a bullet-proof limousine, surrounded by French troop and with a bodyguard of his own PLO men. The ship aboard which re is sailing to Greece was escorted by naval vessels of the international force, to ensure his safety.
Before leaving for the Beirut port, Arafat met with Lebanese leftwing leaders at the west Beirut home of leftist Drure leader Walid Jumblatt.
FIRST CONVOY OF SYRIAN SOLDIERS LEAVE
Just before Arafat left by sea, some 1,200 members of the Syrian army’s 84th Ahmored Brigade left in a road convoy bound for Damascus, together with some of its tanks aboard giant tank transporter. Although pro-Syrian troops have been among previous convoys, this was the first group of actual Syrian soldiers to leave Beirut.
Israeli officers and officials say the evacuation is going faster than scheduled and may be completed by Thursday.
While the evacuation was proceeding, an Israel soldier was wounded when his patrol vehicle ran over a mine in the eastern sector. Members of the patrol came under fire from Syrian-held territory. Fire was returned, the army spokesman said.