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Pro-israel PLO Leader in Gaza Gunned Down by Hard-line Forces

Israeli analysts fear the murder of a leading Palestine Liberation Organization official in the Gaza strip this week may signal the start of a spate of intra-Palestinian strife, touched off by the historic Israeli-PLO accord signed in Washington last week.

Mohammed Abu Shaaban, a lawyer and local leader of Yasser Arafat’s Al Fatah faction of the PLO, was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen Tuesday while driving through Gaza City following a speech he made at a rally to support the accord on Palestinian self-rule.

Shaaban’s family and sources within Fatah said he had been killed as a result of an internal power struggle within Fatah, and Israeli analysts offered a similar appraisal.

Shaaban, 36, had been known for years as a strong supporter of maintaining dialogue with Israel, and he recently played an important role in the negotiations that led to the historic agreement with Israel.

The accord has met with some stiff Palestinian opposition, not only from the rejectionist Hamas movement, but also from radical elements within Fatah, the largest and most moderate faction of the PLO.

Arafat had secured only a narrow majority of support from the PLO’s executive committee before the agreement was signed last week in Washington.

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