TEL AVIV (Jan. 2)
Israel is furious with two Egyptian publications.
Jerusalem takes most seriously the charge made Friday by the semi-official Cairo daily AI Akhbar that Israel’s secret service, Mossad, was responsible for the bomb that destroyed a Pan American World Airways jumbo jet over Scotland on Dec. 21, killing 259 persons aboard and 11 on the ground.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alon Liel, denounced the charge as “repugnant libel.”
He said “Israel is amazed by the fact that an Egyptian official newspaper has published an injurious article of this kind.”
Another kind of libel, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a long discredited anti-Semitic forgery, began to appear in installments in the Egyptian Weekly An-Nur (The Light) this month.
The periodical is the organ of Egypt’s Liberal Party. The party is linked with the Moslem Brotherhood, a powerful fundamentalist group often at odds with the Cairo government.
Al Akhbar, which is regarded here as reflecting official views, claimed Israel was the most likely suspect in the aircraft bombing, because it was interested in harming the dialogue opened last month between the United States and the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly suspects several Palestinian extremist groups opposed to PLO chief Yasir Arafat’s move, of perpetrating the terrorist act.
Arafat is reported to have offered his services to help track down the perpetrators and to send an assassination squad to dispose of them when they are identified.
In Washington, William Sessions, director of the FBI, welcomed information from the PLO, but rejected the hit squad offer. In an interview with NBC News over the weekend, Sessions said Arafat could provide a “wealth of information” about terrorist factions.