RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) – A grandson of Mohandas Gandhi took the legendary Indian leader’s doctrine of nonviolent resistance to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Thursday, pitching the pacifist creed to Yasser Arafat in his sandbagged, bullet-scarred West Bank headquarters.

Ringed by armed bodyguards, Arafat looked on in silence as Arun Gandhi talked to reporters after the meeting, telling them that had the Palestinians adopted passive resistance from the start of the decades-long dispute with Israel, hostilities could well have ended by now, but that it was still not too late.

“If the Palestinian people rise up and start a nonviolent movement, it will boost world sympathy,” he said. “The nations of the world will rise up and put more pressure on Israel.”

For decades since founding the militant Fatah movement in 1959, Arafat championed “armed struggle” against Israel and ordered aircraft hijackings and the slaying of civilians to keep his cause in the spotlight.

Entering talks with his archenemy Israel in 1993, he publicly espoused the search for a peaceful solution to the conflict, but Israel says that to this day he tacitly encourages Palestinian attacks on Israelis by turning a blind eye to the activities of militant groups.

Gandhi, who spent his childhood in South Africa, was 12 years old when he went to live with his grandfather in India. In 1991, he and his wife founded the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn. In 1995 he became a U.S. citizen.

It was his grandfather’s practice of passive resistance that brought down British colonial rule in India. Mohandas Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic in New Delhi in 1948, soon after his country’s independence.

Arun Gandhi arrived in Jerusalem on Tuesday for a weeklong visit to the West Bank and Israel, proposing nonviolent options to end almost four years of bitter fighting between Israelis and Palestinians.

Palestinians blame Israeli occupation and military operations for the violence, which has included more than 100 Palestinian suicide bomb attacks, killing hundreds. Since violence erupted in September 2000, 3,066 people have been killed on the Palestinian side and 970 on the Israeli side.

During his stay Gandhi is to take part in a joint Palestinian-Israeli peace rally, inspect the contentious security barrier Israel is building around the West Bank and attend a candlelight vigil in Bethlehem with Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders.

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