Deportees appeal to Arabs

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The Independent Online
BEIRUT - Spokesmen for more than 400 Palestinians expelled by Israel last month yesterday called for Arab foreign ministers to break off Middle East peace talks until they are allowed to return home, writes Robert Fisk. The appeal, by the doctor whom the deportees have chosen as their leader, may be ignored by Arab diplomats; but it demonstrates the intention of the Palestinians to address their words directly to Arab representatives rather than merely to journalists visiting their camp near Marj al-Zohour.

Demanding 'serious and effective action' by Arab foreign ministers, Dr Abdul-Aziz Rantisi asked that they should 'come out with a clear agreement to withdraw their delegates from Arab peace negotiations'. Syria's official media blamed Western diplomats for the Palestinians' plight, ignoring the official protests which have come from Washington and European capitals. An editorial in al-Baath criticised the West for not condemning the deportations. 'We no longer wonder about the world's silence . . . ' the paper said, 'because the victim is an Arab and the world is biased in favour of Israel.'

At least one of the Palestinian exiles received good news yesterday when he listened to an Arab radio station and heard that his wife had given birth to a baby girl.

In Cairo, members of the Arab League met at the request of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. The League's Secretary- General, Ismat Abdel-Meguid, said in the opening session: 'In view of the Israeli stand which has scorned the will of the international community and its legal and moral principles, we appeal to all peace-loving nations not to allow Israel to violate international law this time and to follow international legitimacy by forcing it to return the deportees.' Officials said all 21 League members were present at the meeting.

(Photograph omitted)