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Egypt Thinks PLO Still Viable Despite Its Support for Iraq

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Despite its outspoken support of Saddam Hussein, the Palestine Liberation Organization is still recognized by Egypt as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians,” according to a statement by Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel Meguid quoted in the weekly El Mussawar.

Meguid’s comment means that Egypt, the only Arab country to make peace with Israel, believes the PLO should be a partner to any negotiations to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Although Egypt and the PLO have had their differences, and relations have grown still further apart as a result of the Persian Gulf war, Yasir Arafat’s organization is still preferable to the rapidly rising Islamic fundamentalist movement.

If they boycott the PLO, the Egyptians could face the same radicals responsible for the murder of Anwar Sadat.

Even as Meguid spoke, Egyptian students demonstrated at Ein Shams University in Cairo against the Gulf war, in which Egyptian troops are part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Iraq.

Egypt’s political attitudes are affected by popular sentiment in the Arab world. Israeli policy-makers are concerned that the latest Egyptian overture toward the PLO could be part of a new radical line, which would eventually insist on an international conference on the Palestinian question and the future of the Golan Heights.

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