A ranking Palestine Liberation Organization official accused Libya today of providing weapons and millions of dollars to PLO officers in Lebanon involved in a revolt against the organization's leadership.
Khalil Wazir, the PLO's deputy commander who also is known as Abu Jihad, said in a statement issued in Damascus, Syria, that he "wished" Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi "had shown such generosity during the battle of Beirut instead of committing the crime of incompetence by withholding the weapons he is now providing to plotters."
His remarks were a reference to the PLO's defense of Beirut last summer during a sustained Israeli offensive. The PLO forces were forced to withdraw at the end of the summer and have complained about the lack of aid from Libya and other Arab countries during the siege.
The revolt was sparked by appointment of Arafat loyalists to command positions in Lebanon, but rebels also have criticized Arafat for holding the now aborted talks with Jordan's King Hussein on President Reagan's Middle East peace initiative and have accused him of abandoning the strategy of armed struggle against Israel.
Qaddafi, a radical opponent of Israel, told a rally in Libya Sunday that the PLO rebellion had his "material and moral support" and criticized current PLO policies. His remarks drew a sharp rebuke yesterday from PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, who said Qaddafi's moves "will cause a split in the Palestine revolution."
Libya kept up the war of words today. Its official news agency Jana said the rebellion was now assured of success "as a result of the wide support it is receiving."
Arafat "finds himself isolated and is acting nervously but he will pay a high price for his behavior," the news agency said.
Although there are no indications of how many of the estimated 6,000 to 8,000 PLO fighters stationed behind Syrian lines in northern and eastern Lebanon have joined in the mutiny, Arafat has been concerned enough to make several trips to Lebanon in what appear so far to have been fruitless efforts to quell it.
In another development today, a special envoy of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd met in Damascus with Syrian President Hafez Assad. The privately owned Beirut Central News Agency said the envoy, Sheik Abdul Aziz Toweijary, was trying to arrange a "minisummit" of Arab nations. The Saudi effort comes in the wake of Arab division over the Lebanese-Israeli peace accords.
In another matter, there was renewed shelling tonight in the Chouf mountains overlooking Beirut as Moslem Druze and Christian militias continued to battle for control of the area.
The militias began exchanging hostages, who had included women and children going to the mountains for weekend retreats, but at least 25 of those captured were still missing today. Twenty-three persons were killed during the weekend, and more than 100 others were abducted and held captive for as long as two days.
President Amin Gemayel briefed ambassadors of the countries comprising the international peacekeeping forces here on the situation in the Chouf today, prompting speculation that he may be seeking their deployment there.