TEL AVIV (Aug. 22)
Yasir Arafat justified the killing of Palestinian collaborators Tuesday, citing similar acts by the French resistance movement during the Nazi occupation of France.
The Palestine Liberation Organization chief, speaking at a news conference in the Jordanian capital of Amman, also said he might convene the Palestine National Council to reconsider its decision of last year to pursue a policy of peace and moderation toward Israel.
The PNC is the PLO’s so-called parliament in exile.
Arafat said the PLO’s peace strategy hasn’t worked so far.
He also expressed disappointment with the lack of progress in the U.S.-PLO dialogue that began eight months ago.
Arafat described Palestinians who collaborate with Israel as “quislings” and said actions taken against them by the leadership of the Palestinian uprising were justified.
But Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin maintained that 60 to 70 percent of the Arabs murdered by fellow Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip recently had nothing whatever to do with the Israeli authorities.
Those killings were criminally or personally motivated, and used the Palestinian uprising merely as a cover, Rabin said. He spoke to reporters during a visit to the air force technical school in Haifa.
The defense minister expressed concern over the mounting wave of murders. He said Israel considers itself responsible for the safety of all residents of the administered territories, Jews and Arabs alike.
NO TALKS YET ON HOSTAGES
Rabin also reiterated that Israel is not presently conducting negotiations for the return of Israeli soldiers and Western hostages held by Shiite extremist groups in Lebanon.
But the Israeli government will seek every possible channel to effect a prisoner-hostage exchange, he said.
Rabin said it was doubtful that the hostage problem would be commanding world attention had it not been for Israel’s July 28 seizure of Shiekh Abdul Karim Obeid, a leader of the Shiite fundamentalist Hezbollah, or Party of God.
His capture opened the way for negotiations, but there is no certainty they will take place, the defense minister said.
Rabin disclosed that an inquiry is under way to find out who leaked a story to the Sunday Times of London that Obeid told his Israeli interrogators the two Israeli soldiers held captive in Lebanon are in fact dead. The paper said Israel was now trying to recover their bodies.
While Israel has not denied the story, officials made clear they do not consider Obeid a credible source.
The position of the government is that the soldiers are alive, unless there is conclusive proof otherwise.