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PFLP military wing outlawed

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The Palestinian National Security Council has outlawed the military wing of the PFLP following the assassination of an Israeli cabinet minister.

The Palestinian Authority came under intense international pressure to take action against the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine after the militant group admitted killing the Israeli Tourism Minister Rechavam Zeevi last week.

The Palestinian Authority responded by making up to 33 arrests of PFLP members, and Sunday, the council withdrew recognition, a Palestinian spokesman told CNN.

"The Palestinian National Security Council, a body which encompasses all the top Palestinian security commanders, outlawed the military wing of the PFLP, known as the Abu Ali Mustafa brigade," the spokesman said.

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"The reason for the order is the members of the brigade are suspected of carrying out acts against Palestinian national security."

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last Thursday gave Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat a week to arrest and hand-over Zeevi's killers.

The Sharon government cut off formal contact with the Palestinian Authority and said if it did not move against Zeevi's killers Israel would consider the PA a terrorist organization.

The move by Arafat and the Palestinian Authority is considered striking because -- while the two have been at odds over the years -- the PFLP has been a member of Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Organization since the late 1960s.

After Zeevi was killed, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres warned Arafat to move quickly or all the recent progress toward the resumption of peace negotiations would be lost.

PA cabinet minister Ziad Abu Zayad said earlier Thursday that the Palestinians would not extradite those responsible for Zeevi's murder to Israel.

In recent weeks, the United States has been pressuring both sides to push toward a Middle East peace. The Bush administration has publicly signaled its support for a Palestinian state, as has British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Arafat has called for the immediate resumption of peace talks, and in recent weeks the Palestinian Authority had cracked down on violence in the territories.

PFLP spokesman Ali Jaradat said that Zeevi had been killed in retaliation for the death of its leader Abu Ali Mustapha (also known as Mustafa Zibri).

Mustafa had been killed by an Israeli missile fired into his offices in Ramallah in August.

Israeli tanks and troops continued their presence in six Palestinian-held territories Monday, following four deaths in the West Bank the day before.

The latest deaths, reported by the Red Crescent Society, included a girl picking olives with her family in a field south of Jenin and a man in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem. The group said the girl was killed by Israeli gunfire.

Earlier Sunday, two Palestinians, including one police officer, were killed and four others injured at a refugee camp near Bethlehem, after exchanging fire with Israeli soldiers, the Red Crescent added.

The Israeli army said the gunfight in the West Bank's Al Azza refugee camp was in response to an explosive device thrown by Palestinians at an Israeli army tank.

The police officer was shot in the head and the other man was shot in the neck, the Red Crescent said. Four other Palestinians were injured from tank shells and live ammunition from Israeli Army, the Red Crescent said.

It was not clear if they were involved in the gun battle or were bystanders.


• Israeli Government
• Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
• Israel Defense Forces
• Moledet Party
• Palestinian Authority
• Palestine Red Crescent Society
• United Nations

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