Abbas Embraces Leading Palestinian Gunman

(AP/San Francisco Chronicle)Zakaria Zubeidi, the leader of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, carried a smiling Mahmoud Abbas on his shoulders Thursday, endorsing the presidential candidate. Zubeidi, who is idolized for his swagger and wanted by Israel for organizing attacks and sending suicide bombers into Israeli cities, and other gunmen hoisted aloft Abbas, who smiled and waved to about 3,000 Palestinians gathered around. "When we demand security," Abbas said, "we demand it for all our citizens, including our wanted brothers," in a reference to Zubeidi and his group. Israel has been quietly backing Abbas, considering him a moderate who has called attacks against Israelis a mistake. However, with Abbas constantly referring to Arafat as his guide and associating with militants like Zubeidi, some Israelis are having second thoughts. Israeli analyst Dan Scheuftan warned that Abbas' embracing of Zubeidi might backfire. "If he believes that by associating with Zubeidi, he gets control of him," Scheuftan said, "this is not the case."

2004-12-31 00:00:00

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