Khalid Hassan: the PLO's affable salesman

Khalid Hassan doesn't fit the image many Americans have of Palestinians and of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The affable, heavy-set Mr. Hassan is a PLO leader. But he's also a businessman who can discuss refrigerators and air conditioners with the authority of a man who has made a living for years selling such items. He likes to wear conservative business suits, and sends a son to college in the United States.

Asked about the terrorism carried out by Palestinians against Israelis, Hassan says that the PLO chairman, Yasser Arafat, has consistently denounced such acts, including most recently an attack on a synagogue in France.

''How can you expect us to control every single Palestinian all over the world?'' asked the PLO official during a recent visit to Washington.

Hassan says that when the British found a list of targets of a Palestinian terrorist faction earlier this year, his own name was on it, together with that of the Israeli ambassador to London. Ambassador Shlomo Argov was critically wounded in an assassination attempt on June 3.

Hassan, who speaks English with a slight British accent, acknowledges that there are different political factions within the PLO, which is an umbrella organization. He himself is usually identified as a moderate.

''We have an opposition like every other people,'' says Hassan. ''We have our public opinion.

''The moment our people see that we are not having success in our argument that we should shake hands with the Americans and talk with the Americans, they will shift from our side to the other side.''

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