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Shcharansky Says He Didn’t Know Palestinians He Met with Were PLO

Natan Shcharansky issued a public apology Thursday for meeting with pro-PLO Palestinians in East Jerusalem early this week. “I learned that the delegation that met with me was identified with the PLO only after our meeting. Had I known this fact in advance, the meeting never would have taken place,” Shcharansky said.

Shcharansky’s statement, a fierce attack on the PLO and avowal of confidence in the government’s methods of fighting it, was issued after the Soviet Jewry activist came under fire from Orthodox and rightwing circles for meeting the Palestinians. The group he met with is seeking to block a deportation order against East Jerusalem editor Akhram Haniye, whom the authorities accuse of PLO activity in the administered territories, though not of direct involvement in terrorist acts.

The most prominent among them is Feisal Husseini, a leading East Jerusalem intellectual sympathetic to the PLO. Husseini said Thursday that Shcharansky made his statement under heavy pressure from rightwing Israelis.

Shcharansky said: “The people of Israel are waging a war of self-defense against the PLO, a criminal terror organization whose goal is the denial of the legitimate rights of the Jewish people to their homeland, and ultimately the destruction of the State of Israel. Both the aims and the barbarous methods of this organization of cut-throats violate every human standard.

“The PLO and those who support it place themselves beyond the pale of civilized society. I learned that the delegation that met with me was identified with the PLO only after our meeting. Had I known this fact in advance, the meeting would never have taken place.

“… The blood of my brothers is on their hands … I have full confidence that the government and security forces of Israel are waging an unrelenting battle for our protection … The pursuit of this goal in accordance with the laws of the State of Israel and subject to the judicial scrutiny of the Israeli Supreme Court is in no way a violation of human rights …”

Haniye has appealed to the Supreme Court against his deportation. The order will not be implemented until the high court rules on the appeal.

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