PLO faction threatens to cut oil supplies to West

By FRED SCHIFF   |   May 30, 1981
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BEIRUT, Lebanon -- A leader of a hard-line PLO faction threatened to 'attack the oil fields' across the Middle East and cut off petroleum supplies to the West if a new war erupts between Israel and her Arab enemies.

Israeli fighter jets swooped low over Lebanon's central Bekaa valley late Friday without drawing Syrian-operated SAM-6 missile fire in escalating Israeli military moves against its northern neighbor.

In the Bekaa Valley, witnesses said Israeli jets were heard over Shtaura, 4 miles southwest of the besieged Christian stonghold of Zahle. Syrian anti-aircraft guns fired harmlessly as the jets passed low over Zahle and disappeared over the Sannine moutains, but no missiles were fired, the witnesses said.

In Washington, special presidential envoy Philip Habib told reporters Friday he would resume his shuttle diplomacy among Middle East capitals 'sometime next week' to try and bring about a long term solution to the fighting in Lebanon.

He said his three weeks of negotiations in Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia had achieved his preliminary objective of easing tensions and creating an atmosphere in which further negotiations could take place.

President Reagan sent Habib to the Middle East in an attempt to defuse the volatile crisis, which began with the emplacement of the Syrian missiles in the Bekaa, which Israel threatened to destroy.

At a rally of the pro-Soviet Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine Friday, a hard-line faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Nayef Hawatmeh threatened to cut oil supplies to the West.

'The (next Middle East) war will reach the whole of the Middle East and will also reach the oil fields if Israel attacks the Palestinian revolution and Syria,' Hawatmeh, the group's leader, said.

Underscoring his threat, he said: 'This is a real warning. We'll attack the oil fields so that oil won't go anymore to the capitalist regimes.'

Widespread Israeli flights Friday over numerous Palestinian-inhabited cities and refugee camps plus Israeli commando raids on the southern town of Majdal Zoun and artillery bombardments of the souther city of Nabatie, were reported by the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

PLO chief Yasser Arafat Friday blamed Washington for the renewed Israeli attacks.

Arafat, speaking at the same rally as Hawatmeh, said that the fact that Israeli raids came only 24 hours after the departure from the Middle East of Habib 'proves that Washington gave the green light to Israel to carry out its military operations against our Palestinian people.'

Arafat also confirmed the presence of libyan forces in Lebanon fighting with the Palestinians.

He told a cheering crowd, 'I ask Begin and his (American) masters...why all this fuss over the Libyans? I tell them (the Israelis and Americas) that the Libyans fought along side the Palestinians in 1947, 1948 and 1972 -- or has Begin forgotten this?'

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