The Palestine National Council, supreme body of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has been meeting in Cairo since Saturday (12 March) to decide on a stand on international pressure for a Middle East settlement.
SV Yasser Arafat, head of Palestine Liberation Organisation and other officials
SV Farouk Kadoumi seated
SV Delegate addressing conference
SV Delegates listening
SV Delegates including Arafat applauding
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Background: The Palestine National Council, supreme body of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has been meeting in Cairo since Saturday (12 March) to decide on a stand on international pressure for a Middle East settlement. Delegates said that six days of the debate in the Council had left no doubt that the position of hard-liners had been strengthened by the United States' President Jimmy Carter's statement last week advocating an Israeli defence capability beyond the country's future recognised borders.
SYNOPSIS: Doves in the Council are pressing for a pragmatic approach to solving the Middle East conflict by negotiation, while hawks insist that the PLO should make on concessions to either Israel or the United States. But they were unanimous in condemnation of Mr Carter's statement which did not mention the Palestinian problem.
According to Reuter's News Agency the hawks and the doves were moving closer together during the Cairo meeting towards a position of hard-line opposition to the United States' plans for a Middle East settlement. Addressing the meeting on Wednesday (16 March) the PLO leader Mr Yasser Arafat hinted at a possible escalation of Palestinian military operations inside Israel.
The assassination of Lebanon's left-wing leader, Kamal Jumblatt, a close ally of the Palestinians, is also likely to strengthen the hand of the hard-liners in the Council. Abu Saleh, a military commander of Fatah said at the meeting that the assassination left Arab leaders no choice but to prepare for fighting.