The situation in the Palestinian city of Ramallah on the West Bank of the Jordan river which was attacked by the Israeli military remains very tense. Despite the curfew imposed by the Israelis, a demonstration of Palestinians in support of Yasser Arafat was held in the city on the night of Tuesday. The Israeli servicemen used high-explosive grenades against the demonstrators.
In the meantime, Yasser Arafat remains a prisoner in his Mukata residence which is besieged by Israeli tanks. According to some calculations, a total of up to 200 people are now hiding in Mukata. The Israelis point out that, by their information, 19 of the above-said people are Palestinian commanders implicated in terrorist activity, and are demanding that they be given up. For his part, Arafat stresses that only turnover of the Palestinians who are staying together with him to some international mediators can be discussed.
In this connection the observers recall the schemes of the settlement of the situations around Mukata and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem last May. At that time the first group of Palestinians, escorted by American and British servicemen, went from Ramallah to a prison in Jericho, and the second was sent from Bethlehem to Cyprus.
According to some information, this scheme was again discussed on Monday during the meeting between head of the local self-government department of the Palestinian national administration Sayeb Arikat and Israeli Brigadier-General Eival Giladi, but the sides did not arrive at any decision. Then the Palestinians told the Israelis that they would not send them the lists.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969