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A conference of Palestinian lesbians, scheduled to be held in Haifa at the end of the month, has raised the ire of Israel's Islamic Movement leaders. Last week, the movement's heads, MKs Ibrahim Sarsur and Abas Zkoor (United Arab List-Ta'al) published a statement calling on "all respectable people from all communities and streams to stand up against preaching sexual deviance among our women and girls."

The Haifa-based Asawat, a Palestinian gay women's organization, most of whose 85 members hail from Israel and the territories, has called the March 28 conference to mark its five-year anniversary.

The Islamic Movement statement also said, "We must not let this fatal cancer spread in our community."

The Southern Islamic Movement cooperated with Orthodox Jewish groups in protesting the Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem.

Asawat said it was studying the situation and would respond when it saw fit.

The Arabic-language newspaper affiliated with Hadash, Al Ittihad, last week published a harsh critique of the Islamic Movement's stand.