Arafat is urging Palestinians to make friends with Israelis

As in previous speeches, Arafat declared the two towns "liberated" and urged national unity.

He also spoke of Jerusalem as the capital of an eventual Palestinian state.

Arafat used the addresses to launch the Palestinian electoral campaign, appealing to members of the crowd "not to vote for Yasser Arafat. Vote for the best."

Arafat urged the crowd to participate in the Palestinian elections, which are scheduled to take place Jan. 20.

More than 700 candidates are running for the 88 seats on the Palestinian Council.

After discussions with Palestinian officials, Israel agreed to increase the 83-member council previously agreed upon to include an additional five seats.

The president of the Palestinian Authority, who will be elected in a separate ballot, will hold the 89th seat on the council.

Arafat's only challenger for the post of president is Samiha Khalil, who is a 72-year-old social activist.

Among the contenders for the council seats are five Hamas activists who announced on Sunday their plans to run as independents.

They are: Imad Falouji, editor of the Hamas weekly Al-Watan; Ismail Haniye, an Islamic University trustee and one of 400 Islamic extremists expelled to Lebanon in late 1992; Khaled Hindi, treasurer of the Islamic University; Said Namrouti, who was jailed in Israel for Hamas activities; and Nasser Muzaini, a lecturer at the Islamic University.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian newspaper editor has been freed after being detained by the Palestinian security service for six days.

Maher al-Alami, editor of the eastern Jerusalem Al-Quds newspaper, was released Saturday of last week after a meeting with Arafat, who reprimanded him for his handling of an article about the PLO leader.

Alami was arrested shortly after he printed on an inside page of the newspaper an article about Arafat being granted custody of Jerusalem's Christian holy places by the Greek Orthodox patriarch.

PLO officials had requested that the story run on the front page.