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Lebanon Refuses Visas to Israeli Observers Invited by U.N. to UNESCO Conference

On the eve of the opening of the U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s meeting at Beirut, Maurice Fischer, Israeli representative in Paris, was officially informed today by the UNESCO secretariat that the Lebanese Government has refused to issue visas to Israeli observers.

U.N. employees of the Jewish faith who are going to Beirut for the UNESCO meeting will receive humiliating and discriminatory treatment. They were refused visas and will have to travel from the Damascus airfield in a special diplomatic automobile with the protection of the Lebanese police, it was learned here today.

The Lebanese action came as a shock to all in U.N. circles here. Dr. Julian Huxley, UNESCO director-general, had invited Israel to send observers to the Beirut session. At preliminary talks with UNESCO officials in September, Charles Malik, Lebanese delegate to the U.N., said that Lebanon would not discriminate against any UNESCO delegate or official on racial, religious or other grounds. He clearly indicate that his country would welcome Jews in Beirut.

This statement greatly influenced the UNESCO staff and officials in deciding to hold the meeting at Beirut. Israel indicated that it would send observers in the capacity of guests with a status similar to that of representatives from the Vatican. In accord with the UNESCO constitution, Israel expected that the next step would be its admission after six months as a full member of the agency.

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