COSTINESTI, Romania — Israeli leftists and Palestine Liberation Organization representatives cut short a peace meeting on its first day Thursday because Arab terrorists threatened to kill the Palestinians, Israeli participants said.
The Abu Nidal Palestinian terrorist group issued a statement Thursday in Beirut warning that Romania would "pay dearly" for its role as unofficial sponsor of the conference and added: "We denounce those Palestinians participating in this meeting and we tell them that the punishment to be inflicted on them by our people will be a lesson to everyone who dares play with the destiny of our people."
Two rocket-propelled grenades had exploded Wednesday in the courtyard of Romania's Embassy in Beirut. No one was injured.
The Israeli government had tried to discourage the meeting. A law passed in August forbids contact between Israelis and members of terrorist groups, a definition Israel applies to the PLO.
PLO delegates "have been under pressure and life threats and it was their decision to cut this meeting short," said Perehz Kidrom, a journalist in the Israeli group.
Of the meeting, he said, "In substance it could have been better, but the main thing is that the meeting took place, and from here we think we'll go further."
Only 15 of the expected 31 Palestinians arrived for the meeting, he said. The Israeli group was reduced to 29 from the intended 60 because of government pressure and internal disagreements.
Latif Dori, head of the Israeli group, accused Israel officials earlier Thursday of using intimidation in an attempt to stop the meeting. Those attending had been told they risked arrest on their return home.
Dori said the talks did not represent a political endorsement of the PLO. "We are ready to hear what the other side has to say," he said. "Our dialogue will be a good step for peace."
Romania has an independent foreign policy and is the only Soviet Bloc nation to maintain relations with Israel. The Abu Nidal statement Thursday called Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu "a dealer for Zionism . . . rendering a new favor to the Zionist movement."
"We condemn the dirty deeds of the Zionist regime in Romania," it said, "and stress that this regime will pay dearly for harming the cause of the Palestinian people."