The PLO, outraged at the Hebron massacre, demanded curbs on settlers and international protection for Palestinians in the occupied territories Saturday as its price for continuing peace talks with Israel.
Keeping President Clinton guessing about whether it will join the latest round of talks with Israel in Washington, the PLO leadership recalled its peace negotiators and called an emergency meeting of its policy-making executive committee.
PLO chief Yasser Arafat said that he was in favor of talks with Israel in Washington but that Israel first had to meet demands for protection of Palestinians and disarming Jewish settlers.
A senior U.S. administration official said later that Clinton had spoken by telephone with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin to discuss joint efforts to keep the talks on track.
The official said that both Mubarak and Rabin had expressed their strong desire for the talks to conclude and that Mubarak had pledged to do his utmost to work with Arafat and Rabin.
Arafat, in an interview with Reuters in Tunis, Tunisia, said it was necessary to provide Palestinians with security and protection "and at the same time these armed gangs and armed settlers must be disarmed, otherwise they become time bombs."
Arafat repeated his call for an international force in the Israeli-occupied territories made after a Jewish settler, Dr. Baruch Goldstein, massacred some 40 worshipers and wounded dozens in the Mosque of Abraham in Hebron on Friday morning.
"We are now asking the international community to take all the measures to protect our people. We need international protection and we have to remember that the DOP (declaration of principles) which we signed last September in the White House refers to the international presence in the West Bank and Gaza," Arafat said.
Questions about army involvement fueled Arab fury.
In the territories, protests against the massacre continued, and Israeli troops killed three Arabs in clashes.
Riots spread to Arab areas of Jaffa and Nazareth inside Israel for the first time since the Palestinians rebelled against the Israeli occupation in December 1987.
Thousands of Israeli Arabs marched in the streets and threw stones at police, who answered with tear gas and shots in the air.
In Tel Aviv's Jaffa district, hundreds of rioters attacked Jews, smashed the windows of Jewish stores and burned cars. In the West Bank town of Nazareth, 3,000 protesters marched with placards calling for Israel to "disarm settlers and enforce the law."
The army sealed off the West Bank, Israel army radio reported late Saturday.
In Hebron, Palestinians defied curfew to mourn their dead.
Israel, for its part, said it was important to keep the peace process moving despite Friday's massacre.
"There is no doubt that at this stage we must save the negotiations," Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told Israel Radio.
But he rejected an international presence in the territories. His deputy, Yossi Beilin, spurned a PLO call for Israel to disarm settlers as a condition for resuming talks.
The PLO has left a final decision on the peace talks to an emergency meeting of its executive committee, whose members were expected to arrive at its headquarters in Tunis by today.
In other news Saturday:
Israeli television, quoting sources close to the military probe of the incident, said some Israeli soldiers had fired into the fleeing worshipers, causing more casualties. Palestinian officials leveled similar charges.
Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak said soldiers discharged their weapons into the air and denied the army firing had caused deaths.
Barak acknowledged that there were not enough Israeli army guards at the site and that border police officers arrived too late, about 20 minutes after the shooting began.
New questions were raised about how Goldstein, a reservist who was wearing his army uniform, managed to get inside the mosque while carrying five magazines of 35 bullets each. Goldstein, according to the television report, was not checked for weapons when he entered the mosque, as is normal practice.
Israel's Cabinet will meet today to consider outlawing Jewish extremist groups as a "first step" to improving security, Peres said. Goldstein belonged to one such group.
A militant Egyptian Muslim group, Gama'a al-Islamiya, said it had ordered its armed units to step up attacks to avenge the massacre.
Gama'a called on all Muslim fundamentalist groups in the Middle East "to raise their rifles" and take action.
_ Information from Reuters, the Associated Press and Washington Post was used in this report.