ROME (Nov. 3)
Yasir Arafat hinted at a new wave of Arab terrorism against American and European targets if the Madrid peace conference ends in failure.
That was how many interpreted the Palestine Liberation Organization chief’s remarks in an interview published Saturday in the daily Corriere della Sera. He was clearly not optimistic about the outcome of the peace talks, although his interview was given before all the Arab delegations in Madrid, including the Palestinians and Jordanians, sat down with Israel to discuss where subsequent talks would be held.
Arafat dismissed the speeches made by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in Madrid as “the same old slogans, the old dreams, the old language.”
According to Arafat, Shamir is out of tune with the post-Persian Gulf War world.
If the conference fails, “there will be a great instability in the entire region. Many problems for everyone,” Arafat said.
“Americans and Europeans would pay a very heavy price,” he warned. Asked to elaborate. Arafat said, “Imagine what the extremist groups that operate in the region will do. These groups of fanatics represent a formidable force and will not sit with their hands folded.”
He referred specifically to Hamas, a violence-prone Islamic fundamentalist movement that cropped up in the Gaza Strip shortly after the intifada began in December 1987.
The PLO chief was evasive when asked if he was in full control of the Palestinian movement in the Israeli-administered territories.