PFLP stands by anti-Israel line


The Palestinian opposition reaffirmed its continued commitment to anti-Israel clauses in the PLO charter yesterday despite a vote by the PLO's second highest body last Thursday confirming their deletion.

The PLO central council's vote "does not express the wish of the people," the 10 opposition factions which advocate continued armed resistance to the Jewish state said in a draft statement.

The statement reaffirmed "the attachment of the Palestinian people to the National Charter as the basis of its unity," said Mr Maher Taher, spokesman for the largest PLO opposition faction, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

The opposition's two-day "general national congress" in Damascus, Syria, which was intended to upstage US President Mr Clinton's landmark visit to the Palestinian territories has been marred by a rift between moderates and hard-liners. On Saturday, the leader of the PFLP's smaller rival, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, stormed out of the congress accusing armchair militants "who have not fired a shot at the Israeli enemy" of seeking to speak for the whole opposition.

Participants say the two main opposition factions are worried by moves by hard-liners to set up a rival PLO.

Palestinians held for security offences and on a hunger strike in an Israeli military jail cursed President Clinton and said his peace mission to the Middle East was a sham.

"Clinton you coward, go look for women," prisoners chanted in Megiddo jail in northern Israel.