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Sunday, February 14, 1999 Published at 21:07 GMT

World: Middle East

Radical Palestinians bitter over Israel handshake

A coalition of hardline Palestinian groups based in the Syrian capital, Damascus, has roundly condemned a prominent Palestinian leader, Nayef Hawatmeh, for shaking the hand of the Israeli President during last week's funeral ceremony of King Hussein of Jordan.

A meeting of the coalition attended by three hundred delegates has decided to suspend Mr Hawatmeh's group, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

A statement said that by shaking the hand of President Ezer Weizman and publically calling him a man of peace, Mr Hawatmeh had inflicted great damage to the Palestinian cause.

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