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Israel Using Excessive Force, U.S. Envoy Says

April 12, 1988|Reuters

JERUSALEM — U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas F. Pickering today accused Israel of using excessive force and denying legal rights in its handling of a Palestinian uprising in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"We have expressed our deep concern about the many cases of the excessive use of force and live fire," Pickering said in a lecture at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Israelis have killed at least 139 Palestinians in efforts to quash a 4-month-old uprising in the occupied areas, according to U.N. figures. Two Israelis also have been killed in clashes.

An Israeli general said this week that 4,800 Palestinians had been arrested, 900 of them detained for six months without trial.

'Absence of Due Process'

"We have also spoken about our concern over expulsions and deportations, administrative detentions and home demolitions and sealings, particularly with the absence of due process in such activities," Pickering said.

Israel expelled eight Palestinian activists to Lebanon on Monday and ordered the expulsion of 12 others, prompting swift condemnation from the U.S. State Department and the British Foreign Office. (Story on Page 9.)

Pickering said a Middle East peace initiative advanced by Secretary of State George P. Shultz is still alive, despite Shultz's failure to raise clear support for the plan in Israel and all Arab countries but Egypt.

Plan for Direct Talks

Shultz has visited the Middle East twice in the last six weeks for talks on a plan calling for direct Arab-Israeli peace talks launched by an international forum.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir opposes the plan out of concern that an international forum might force Israel to withdraw from occupied areas to what he calls indefensible borders. The Americans insist that the forum would have no powers of coercion.

"Our friends in Israel persist in trying to misunderstand our approach," said Pickering, hinting at Shamir.

He said the Iran-Iraq War remains one of the most serious conflicts in the region.

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