Chief of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), Yasser Arafat accused Israel of planning a blitzkrieg against the PLO, when he addressed a rally marking the fifteenth anniversary of the Union of Working People's Forces on Sunday (27 January).
GV AND SV Marchers in protest rally in Damascus with local leaders at head (2 shots)
SV Religious leaders and Palestinian children chanting in protest (3 shots)
TV PULL BACK TO LTV Crowd in square listening to leaders speaking from balcony
SV Leaders on balcony speaking to crowd (2 shots)
GV AND SV Closed shops in Beirut streets (2 shots)
GV Protest PLO rally marching through beirut streets (2 shots)
SV Arab women demonstrating by clapping and singing chants
TV Effigies of U.S. President Carter, Israeli Premier Menachem begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat being burned
SV Armed guard outside meeting hall of rally in Beirut.
SCU PULL BACK TO GV Large portrait of Ex-President Nasser
SB INTERIOR PLO Chief Yasser Arafat mounting platform, being greeted and applauded by supporters (2 shots)
SV Arafat speaking in Arabic
AV Audience applauding at end of speech, and Mr Arafat finishing with flourish
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Chief of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), Yasser Arafat accused Israel of planning a blitzkrieg against the PLO, when he addressed a rally marking the fifteenth anniversary of the Union of Working People's Forces on Sunday (27 January). A day earlier, big rallies in Damascus, Syria and Beirut, Lebanon protested strongly against the opening of the Israeli/Egyptian borders last week (21-25 January).
SYNOPSIS: In Damascus, the rally was headed by both national and regional leaders.
A large cross-section of the population, including people's organisations, state employees and religious leaders, joined the protest. Palestinians were there in force, and a small regiment of Palestinian children added their own protest slogans.
Several speakers delivered soothing attacks on Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the United States, and Israel.
Although Israeli/Egyptian talks on Palestinian autonomy are stalemated, with no early breakthrough expected, the border opening went ahead as planned. The new era of free-flowing traffic between Israel and Egypt is a source of aggravation to the hard-line Arab states.
And in Beirut, Lebanon, shops stayed closed while the PLO and left-wing parties joined the demonstration in the streets against the further easing of Israeli-Egyptian relations. The PLO has called or Palestinians in refugee camps to strike in protest against the border opening and Israel's withdrawal from another area of Sinai.
Effigies of President Carter, Israeli Prime Minister Begin and Egyptian President Sadat were burned.
The meeting of the leftist Federation of Working People was heavily guarded. The organisation was founded fifteen years ago during the regime of President Gemel Abdul Nasser. Anniversary speeches by party leader Kamal Shatila, Lebanese and Palestinian leftist representatives and Yasser Arafat, pleased the audience.
In his speech, the Palestinian leader accused Israel of planning a blitzkrieg on the Palestinian guerrillas, but warned that his commandos were fully prepared to repulse any strike.
Evidence of support came on Monday (28 January) when Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, on a three-day visit to Syria, pledged to aid Arab states in their efforts to secure the return to Israeli-occupied Arab territory.
Mr Arafat did not himself attend the Islamic Foreign Minister's conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, but sent three members to represent the PLO.