Israeli Communist Faction Wins Support Among West Bank Notables

A Communist faction apparently favored by Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat has scored a significant success in its drive for support among West Bank Palestinians against a more moderate rival, the newly formed Progressive List for Peace.

The latter, a coalition of Israeli Arab nationalist and Jewish leftists is appealing to Israeli Arabs who traditionally have voted for the Communist list in Knesset elections. For that reason, it seeks support from West Bank Palestinian leaders who are believed to have considerable influence in Israel’s Arab community.

It sufered a setback this week when the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (DFPE), which is Communist, won the endorsement of 25 West Bank notables Most are known Communists and leftists. But the signatories of a statment of support for the DFPE include such strong Palestinian nationalists as the deposed mayors of Nablus, Ramallah and El Bireh–Bassam Shaka, Karim Khallaf and Ibrahim A-Tawil, respectively. These men are neither Communists nor necessarily of leftwing persuasion.

The statement they signed maintains that the DFPE has always taken “patriotic and brave” positions in support of the Palestinian people’s struggle for an independent state.

Both the DFPE and the Progressive List for Peace claim to have the support of the PLO leadership. Arafat, in a recent interview made no statements in favor of either list but one of his deputies urged Israeli Arabs to vote Communist.

The Progressive List for Peace was initially barred from the July 23 Knesset elections because of its advocacy of a Palestinian state and Israel’s withdrawal to its pre-June, 1967 borders. But the Supreme Court over ruled the Central Election Committee’s ban. It also overruled the ban against Rabbi Meir Kahane’s extreme rightwing Kach Party which the Central Election Committee’s considered a menace to democratic institutions.

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