Israeli Authorities Close West Bank Institutions of Higher Learning for Duration of the Pnc Meeting
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Israeli Authorities Close West Bank Institutions of Higher Learning for Duration of the Pnc Meeting

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The Israeli authorities have shut down all institutions of higher learning on the West Bank as a precaution against new eruptions of violence for the duration of the Palestine National Council (PNC) meeting in Amman, convened by Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat. (See related story, P.3.)

The action was ordered over the weekend after campus battles between pro and anti-Arafat students spilled into the streets and turned into stone-throwing melees against Jewish vehicles and the Israel Defense Force. Two Arab youths were fatally wounded by IDF soldiers who said they were forced to open fire when surrounded by stone-throwing mobs in Ramallah and Bir Zeit last week.

Among the Arab institutions shut down are Bir Zeit University, the University of Bethlehem and the College of Social Studies in Ramallah. The situation turned ugly Friday when the body of the student shot in Ramallah a day earlier, Baker Ali Tamini, 21, was exhumed and reburied in a noisy, emotional funeral service in his home village of Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah. The youth, originally identified as Abdullah Baker, had been buried Thursday night at IDF orders.

But villagers exhumed the body, draped it in a Palestinian flag, and after a procession with much shouting of nationalist slogans, re-buried it in the original grave. Security forces did not interfere. There was no similar incident in Bir Zeit were 23-year-old Sharif Khalil ## was shot to death by Israeli soldiers last Wednesday.


Strong security measures were taken throughout the territory over the weekend in anticipation of further trouble coincidental with the PNC meeting in Amman. But the situation was quiet.

The streets of most Arab towns in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem were practically empty as residents watched the PNC proceedings televised from Amman. Arab political leaders remained silent on the events in Amman, apparently waiting for the major speech to be delivered by Arafat before ##.

Nevertheless, about 150 prominent Palestinians sent a message of support to the PLO leader, among them Mayors Elias Freij of Bethlehem and Hilmi Hanoon of Tulkarem. There is a strong anti-Arafat minority in the territory, among them the deposed Mayor of Nablus, Bassam Shaka.


Meanwhile, an angry debate has developed in Israel over the presence in Amman of seven Israeli journalists, among some 200 foreign journalists, covering the PNC meeting. These include Amnon Kapelyuk, who is a correspondent for Yediot Achronot and the French daily Le Monde. The others, all of whom live permanently abroad, include Uri Davis from London and IIIan Halevy from Paris.

Likud MK Gideon Gadot announced today that he would demand that the government revoke the passports of those Israeli journalists. He will also ask the Government Press Office to revoke the press credentials of Kapelyuk who had covered the last PNC meeting in Algiers and recently returned from a visit to North Yemen. According to Gadot, private Israeli citizens cannot take the law into their own hands and “legitimize” the PLO convention by their presence.

But Yisrael Peleg, director of the Government Press Office, pointed out that Kapelyuk went to Amman in a “professional capacity.” He stressed that the “boundaries of freedom of the press do not end on the Jordan River.”

Two other MKs, Yossi Sarid of the Civil Rights Movement and Muhammed Miari of the Progressive List for Peace, continued to urge the government to lift the ban on West Bank Palestinian delegations attending the PNC meeting in Amman. They warned that the present policy would destroy the opportunity to open some sort of dialogue with the Palestinians.

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