Pact leaves out three-fourths of all Palestinians ISRAELI-PLO PEACE PLAN

September 01, 1993|By Doug Struck | Doug Struck,Staff Writer

DAMASCUS, Syria -- Hassan al-Hindi has waited 45 years to return to his homeland near Haifa. The proposed agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will not get him there.

"What do we get from this? Nothing," Mr. al-Hindi, a laborer, said in disgust as he worked in a neighborhood of Palestinian refugees in Damascus.

Mr. al-Hindi and more than three-fourths of the Palestinian people are left out of the accord being worked out by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, a narrow pact that would give autonomy to about 1 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho.

Opponents among Palestinians are surfacing quickly and loudly. They say the agreement is so limited that it is a mockery of the promise to give Palestinians control of their lives and lands. Yasser Arafat, leader of Fatah, the mainstream faction of the PLO, faces a formidable task in rallying support for the plan among these people in and out of the Israeli occupied territories.

"This plan sides with the Israelis," said Fahed Sulliman, an official of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, one of 10 Palestinian groups in Damascus that have announced their objection to the agreement.

"It's very clear to us that most of the Palestinians are against it," he said.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a radical group here opposed to Fatah, issued a threat on Mr. Arafat's life.

"Arafat and his entourage will have to pay the price," said the statement. "We remind Arafat of the fate of Sadat." Egyptian President Anwar el Sadat, who signed a peace agreement in 1979 with Israel, was assassinated by Muslim radicals in 1981.

In a dingy office in Damascus, guarded by men with machine guns, Anuar Reja, an official of the PFLP-General Command, said that Mr. Arafat is "a traitor" and "will be tried by the Palestinian people."

The plan is a sell-out, he said, in which Israel loses little and Palestinians gain no sovereignty. "It's all been done according to the Israeli plan," he said. "They make it seem like they are giving up something, but they are not."

Arab countries also are concerned about the pact. Jordan's King Hussein made a surprise trip to Damascus yesterday, apparently to voice his fears about the agreement to Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.

Jordan, Lebanon and Syria had agreed with the Palestinian negotiators to make no pact with the Israelis separately. To maximize their leverage, they pledged to hold out for an overall agreement for all the parties.

But Palestinians seem set to forge ahead with the so-called "Gaza-Jericho first" plan without waiting for the other Arab countries to reach agreements.

King Hussein reportedly is worried that with looser border controls a surge of Palestinians might move into Jordan through Jericho on its border.

Syria has made no formal comment, but its state-run daily newspaper, Tishreen, warned Monday against a "piecemeal" approach.

Each of those countries has become home to large camps of Palestinian refugees. In Syria, for example, about 240,000 Palestinians arrived after the 1948 war that carved out the state of Israel and sent many Palestinians fleeing from their homes.

Ali Dasuki was 13 years old at the time.

"The Red Cross said it would be a temporary camp," Mr. Dasuki said of the Yarmuk Refugee Camp established then. Instead, he has raised 10 children here, and Yarmuk district has grown into a city neighborhood virtually indistinguishable from others in Damascus but for its population of 400,000 Palestinians.

Because those 1948 refugees came from areas now in Israel, the talks in Washington do not include provisions for them to return.

"Even if I cannot live there, I wanted to be able to visit Palestine," said Mr. Dasuki, who owns a plumbing fixture store. "At the start of the negotiations I thought we would get all of the West Bank and Gaza. But Israel only gives us negative things."

Opposition Palestinian groups have a range of objections to the latest plan. Some reject any negotiations with the Jewish state; others say the plan does not come with sufficient guarantees that the rest of the West Bank will return to Palestinians.

Some opponents also say the agreement as announced so far delays discussion of the control of Jerusalem, sets no specific guidelines on the withdrawal of Israeli forces and does not

ensure that the Palestinians will achieve an independent state.

These Palestinian groups are fragmented, but they have forced Mr. Arafat and the mainstream Fatah faction to back down over previous proposals.

In addition, they may find fertile political support in the "diaspora" -- Palestinians who are dispersed throughout the Middle East. About 2 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and Gaza, but 2 million to 3 million others have fled from the succession of wars with Israel to other countries.

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