Fatah Opponent of Arafat Permitted to Enter Jericho

Israel allowed a senior Palestinian official who opposes the self-rule accord to enter the Jericho self-rule enclave from Jordan on Thursday.

Ahmed Zaki, a member of Fatah, crossed the Allenby Bridge into the West Bank accompanied by five of his supporters and their families.

Israeli sources said the entry was approved after a request from the Palestinian Authority.

Zaki is considered a leading critic of Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat. He has been a vocal opponent of the Israel-PLO accord signed two years ago.

Zaki, 46, left his native Hebron before 1967, and has not been back since. He was involved in terror attacks before the self-rule agreement was signed.

Israeli opposition figures lashed out at the Rabin government for approving Zaki’s entry, given that Israeli security forces only recently described him as a leading voice of opposition to the peace process.

The National Religious Party called the government’s decision shocking.

Moshe Peled of Tsomet called on Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to explain the reasoning for the decision to a parliamentary committee.

Palestinian sources said the Israeli move could have been an effort to give Arafat an opportunity to bridge the rift in Fatah.

In addition, Palestinian sources said Israel had also approved entry of seven other Fatah officials who are due to serve in senior positions after an Israel Defense Force redeployment in the West Bank, the terms of which are still being negotiated.

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