TEL AVIV — A group of Israeli leftists returned from a controversial meeting in Romania with Palestine Liberation Organization representatives Friday to face police summonses and public abuse.
Amid rowdy scenes at Ben-Gurion Airport, four leaders of the 29-member Israeli group were handed orders to report to the police for questioning on Sunday under a new law that forbids unauthorized meetings with "terrorist organizations."
"This is a terrorist law against peace," said Latif Dori, the group spokesman and a member of the left-wing Mapam party, as he waved the summons in the air.
"We went to make peace because we want our enemies to be our friends and our neighbors tomorrow," Dori said of the Palestinians they met in Romania. "We didn't go to break the law."
Threat to Palestinians
The Israeli group held a two-hour meeting with 15 Palestinians in the Romanian town of Costinesti on Thursday. The Israelis said the talks, which had been scheduled to continue Friday, were cut short after the Palestinians received death threats. The Abu Nidal Palestinian terror group, which opposes PLO chief Yasser Arafat, vowed that the Palestinians would be punished.
The Israeli leftists' return was disrupted by anti-PLO demonstrators demanding that the delegates be put in jail.
Lawyer Azriel Barak, whose son and daughter-in-law were killed by a Palestinian in 1979, led the protesters, shouting, "Traitors, you helped the enemy!" Police led him away.
Police broke up several shoving matches between the delegation and the protesters.
Asked whether the Palestinians he met were members of the PLO, Dori said: "I don't know. I never asked them."
Condemned by Officials
The meeting, organized by the Romanian writers' union, was condemned in advance as illegal and harmful by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.
The PLO concluded the talks with a statement reiterating its determination to fight with all means possible, not excluding violence, to achieve its aims.
Israeli participants said the encounter yielded little but was at least a symbol of the willingness of Israelis and Palestinians to sit together and discuss their conflict.
"If the Israeli government will sit down with the PLO and negotiate, we can achieve a halt to violence immediately," said writer David Ish-Shalom.
"It was rather disappointing. I think the Palestinians expected a bigger and better (Israeli) delegation and maybe scaled down theirs," peace campaigner Reuven Kaminer said. But he added, "It was just one step forward."
More than 100 Israeli leftists and peace activists had originally planned to attend the meeting, but a majority dropped out before departure in disputes over how to handle the talks.
As police escorted the leftists out of the airport, an Orthodox Jew holding a photograph of a guerrilla attack waved a noose at them. However, some other bystanders applauded the peace campaigners.