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Mubarak Aide: Palestinians Have Right to Resist Occupation - 2001-12-11

While the United States and the European Union have labeled Hamas and Islamic Jihad as Palestinian terrorist groups, a top Egyptian official says Palestinians have the right to resist Israeli occupation.

Osama el-Baz, the top political adviser to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, says Palestinians have the right to fight Israeli occupation, but should avoid hurting civilians. He also said they should "make sure their reactions to Israel's actions are proportionate."

Speaking to an Islamic charity organization in Cairo, Mr. el-Baz said taking part in resistance is not "evil and not a crime that we should disavaow." He said there is a huge difference between terrorism and resistance.

His comments follow a call by the European Union for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to dismantle the "terrorist networks Hamas and Islamic Jihad, including the arrest and prosecution of all suspects."

Ossama Abu Hemdan, a Hamas spokesman in Lebanon, has said that the European Union is asking the Palestinian Authority to confront its own population.

Mr. Hemdan says the European Union is calling for the Palestinian Authority to arrest and try the key representatives of Hamas and Jihad. He says it will force the Palestinian Authority to become an extension of the Israeli army.

Kaiss Abdel Karim is the head of the political office for the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

He said he agrees with Egyptian political adviser Osama el-Baz that civilians should not be harmed, but says dismantling Hamas and Islamic Jihad would threaten to trigger a civil war among Palestinians.

"Hamas and Jihad are political organizations that command very wide support among the Palestinian population. Regardless of our opinion and some of their actions, which we disagree with, we believe that a call for their disbandment would mean a call for internal civil war and this is a big catastrophe for the Palestinian people," he said.

Earlier, The Organization of the Islamic Conference, representing the world's 1.2 billion Muslims, issued a final statement following its emergency meeting Monday in Qatar. It urged the United States, Russia, and the European Union to immediately intervene and stop "Israeli aggression."

The one day meeting of the 57-nation organization ended with a pledge to support the Palestinian Authority, which has been under Israeli attack in retaliation for recent Palestinian suicide bombings.