Arafat Behavior Reported Erratic by Palestinians Who Consult Him

Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat has been behaving erratically, causing indecision among Palestinian delegates to the Middle East peace talks, according to the Israeli daily Ma’ariv.

Members of the Palestinian delegation wishing to consult with him have been embarrassed by his stubborn responses and say he does not advise them on how to act in the negotiations with Israel, according to Palestinian sources in the territories quoted by the paper Sept. 17.

The sources have labeled recent meetings with Arafat as “disgraceful,” saying he bursts into shouting fits at the delegation members, apologizes, then shouts again.

His behavior has been the cause of a breakdown in the Middle East peace talks being held in Washington, sources report.

They say that in effect, he directs the delegation members not to advance toward Israel in the negotiations.

The Palestinian sources say Arafat is also under pressure from within the PLO, with vocal opposition coming from a plethora of senior PLO members, including those in the mainstream Al Fatah group. Among his critics is the head of the special commando unit called Force 17, whose name was only given as Abu Tayyeb.

But despite the inability to depend on clear advice from Arafat, the delegation must still consult with him, the sources say.

Even if they do not put all his directives into practice, at least outwardly they are still under his authority, and express willingness to fulfill his orders, Ma’ariv reported.

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