PARIS (Jan. 30)
A political furor erupted this week after the leader of a radical Palestinian faction was hospitalized here.
Four top government officials tendered their resignations following the admission of George Habash, who suffered a stroke at his home in Tunis and was flown here Wednesday night for treatment.
Habash’s dissident Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has been implicated in many terrorist attacks.
It was expected he would undergo minor brain surgery, Palestine Liberation Organization sources said.
The sources said Habash, 65, was admitted to France with the full approval of the French authorities and is hospitalized at a French Red Cross clinic in Paris.
The head of the French Red Cross was among those tendering resignations. Habash’s admission found the Foreign Ministry and the Red Cross each placing responsibility on the other.
The decision to admit Habash apparently was taken by former Cabinet member Georgina Dufoix, who resigned Thursday as head of the French Red Cross. Dufoix has been an adviser to President Francois Mitterrand. The Elysee Palace said that Mitterrand had accepted his resignation.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Roland Dumas demanded and got resignations from his Cabinet director, Bernard Kessedjian, and his secretary-general, Francois Scheer.
The Cabinet director at the Interior Ministry, Christian Vigouroux, also resigned.
The PFLP has taken credit for several attacks on civilian airliners, including the 1976 hijacking of an Air France jet to Entebbe, Uganda.
The PFLP broke years ago with Yasir Arafat’s mainstream Al Fatah faction of the PLO but remains under the PLO umbrella.
While Arafat has been officially received in Paris, the decision to bring Habash here, where so many terrorist attacks have taken place, was sharply criticized by the right-wing opposition.
“It is an insult to the victims of terrorism,” said Gerard Longuet, head of the Republican Party.
Nor could French television find a member of the ruling Socialist Party willing to speak in favor of Habash’s presence.
Mitterrand, on an official visit to Oman, was clearly embarrassed by the affair. He was quoted as saying Habash’s time in France should be “extremely brief.”