Arafat threatens violence if Mideast peace talks dissolve Intifada is an option, Palestinian tells students

September 01, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

JERUSALEM -- Cranking up the pressure on the Israeli government, Yasser Arafat repeated warnings yesterday that Palestinians might have to revert to violence if the peace with Israel broke down.

In meetings in the West Bank city of Nablus, Arafat invoked the intifada, the Palestinian uprising waged largely by stone-throwing youths that flared in the streets of Gaza and the West Bank for seven years before peace was made in 1993.

"One of our options is to return to the intifada," Arafat told high school students on the first day of school. "You remember I described you as children of the stones. Keep up the spirit of resistance."

The tough talk was the latest volley in a campaign Arafat launched Wednesday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government, charging that its policies on settlements and Jerusalem amounted to a declaration of war on the Palestinians.

Since his election in May, Netanyahu has asserted repeatedly that he is committed to pursuing the peace with the Palestinians and is only waiting until his aides have completed preparations.

His deputies have held several meetings with Arafat's lieutenants. A Palestinian official said yesterday that Netanyahu and Arafat would meet soon.

But so far, Netanyahu has set no date for two steps regarded as critical for the process to resume -- an Israeli withdrawal from Hebron and a personal meeting with Arafat.

Arafat has sent letters to capitals around the world warning that the situation is turning dangerous, and he held a demonstrative meeting with former Prime Minister Shimon Peres and appealed for another with Israel's president, Ezer Weizman.

The latter appeal prompted Weizman to warn that he will meet with Arafat if Netanyahu does not.

Evidently in response, Netanyahu sent more envoys to Arafat on Thursday and suggested that an initiative was imminent, including a Netanyahu-Arafat meeting.

Pub Date: 9/01/96

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