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France Grants Asylum for Palestinian Deported with 4 Others from West Bank

Israel deported five Palestinians from the West Bank on Sunday and, in an extraordinary move, France granted asylum for one of them.

Dr. Taysir Aruri, who taught physics at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank until it was shut down by the Israeli authorities, was expected in Paris late Sunday night.

He is one of five Palestinians whose final appeals against expulsion were rejected by Israel’s High Court of Justice last Thursday. All were expelled Sunday.

Israel claims that the men, who have records of security offenses and have long been in custody, are leaders of the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Setting something of a precedent, Israeli authorities permitted the five to select where he wanted to be deported.

Aruri, who is a member of the Palestinian Communist Party, chose France. He said he feared for his life if sent to Lebanon, the place where Israel usually expels those it deems security risks.

The other four deportees were flown by helicopter to the southern Lebanon security zone, where they were given medical checkups and some money before friends drove them further north.

France has consistently condemned the deportation of Palestinian civilians from the West Bank. But Aruri’s request for asylum put the French in an awkward position.

To accept him could be interpreted as implicit approval of his deportation. But by turning down the request, Paris would belie its tradition of welcoming political refugees.

DEPORTATIONS TO CONTINUE

The French finally decided in favor of Aruri, whose request for asylum was conveyed by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In Paris, a ranking French official told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the government’s move “can by no means constitute a precedent.” But experts could not recall another instance of a European country granting asylum to Palestinians expelled by Israel.

Aruri, who lived in El-Bireh, had been held under administrative detention, without trial or charges, for four years, from 1974 to 1978.

The others deported Sunday were:

Mohammed Matur, 40, a lecturer at a nursing school, whom the Israelis say was active in the intifada in the Jerusalem-Ramallah area;

Odeh Ma’ali, a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who served a year in prison for subversion in 1984 and resumed his activities upon his release;

Magid Labadi of Abu Dis, near Jerusalem, also of the Democratic Front, who was sentenced to 15 months in jail in 1981 and was subsequently held in administrative detention; and

Bilal Shakhshir of Nablus, another Democratic Front member.

Gen. Dan Shomron, the Israel Defense Force chief of staff, said Sunday that the deportations would continue, though not on a regular basis.

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