In a thinly veiled attack on Syria, Montazeri said: "I am certain that the hands of Israel and America have been extended to stir up these moves. Their intention is to distort the image of Islam and the Shias in the rest of the Islamic world and cause a permanent breach between the Lebanese Shias and Muslim Palestinians. . . . "
Crackdown in Damascus
According to Palestinian officials here, the uproar over the Palestinian camps has prompted the Syrians to crack down on Palestinians living in Damascus. Their official cars have been taken away, as has permission for many Palestinians to travel abroad. Palestinian magazines have been closed, as well as a radio station operated by a Palestinian group.
Palestinian leaders usually based in Damascus have been surprisingly outspoken in their attacks on the Syrian government.
Nayef Hewatmey, head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, openly mocked Syria's support for Amal, saying, "Those who are carrying out the massacres now on the pretext that they are fighting Arafat's followers are lying."
George Habash, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said he believes that Syria had been behind the decision to attack the camps.
"I, as many other Palestinians, cannot believe that Amal dared to take such a decision . . . without having had the green light from Syria," Habash said.
A Palestinian official in Damascus, who asked to remain anonymous, said that while no group had talked about leaving Syria, the solidarity of the National Salvation Front, the PLO dissident group, is clearly in tatters.
"If the camps are overrun and disarmed, the Salvation Front is going to have a difficult time trying to justify its position," the official said. "The main reason for the Salvation Front is to keep 'the Palestinian gun' in Lebanon."
The official said the Syrians may have decided to support the attacks on the camps only after reaching a decision that Amal would play a major role in Lebanon's future while the panoply of Palestinian groups had little prospect for achieving their goals.
"The Syrians may have come to the conclusion that it's better to have one bird in hand than 20 in the tree," the official said.