FLORENCE, Italy (Oct. 5)
Arab delegates at the Mediterranean Conference now being held here failed to secure the barring of two members of the Israeli delegation following the intervention of the Italian Foreign Ministry. The conference is attended by Christians, Moslems and Jews from Mediterranean countries gathered to consider common problems and common elements in their civilizations.
The storm blew up when Arab delegates to the parley initiated by Giorgio La Pria, former Mayor of Florence, threatened to leave unless two members of the Israeli group were barred. They objected to Reuven Shiloan and Maurice Fischer, officials of the Israel Foreign Ministry.
In response to the Arab threats, voiced by Tharwat Okacha, Ambassador to Rome of the United Arab Republic, the Israelis said that each delegate had been invited and had come in his personal capacity and that if any were barred, all would leave. While the dispute was pending, however, Prof. Meir Plessner, an Orientalist at the Hebrew University, lectured at the conference on “The Common basis of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. ” The other Israelis stayed away.
However, at the urging of the Italian Foreign Ministry, Prince Moulay Hassan and the Israelis agreed to the compromise. In opening the parley, the Prince had stressed that all delegates were here in personal capacities, none representing their governments, and would “talk freely and fraternally about Common Mediterranean problems.” The opening session, at which delegates from 26 different nations were present, were attended by Italy’s President Gronchi and Premier Fanfani as well as hundreds of Italians prominent in every walk of life.
(The Israeli press was greatly exercised today over the Florence developments, reporting in great detail each new incident as it occurred. The press noted that before the Israelis left for Florence, Mayor La Pira had promised that he would find some solution to the Arab threats and that the Israelis had therefore proceeded to Italy. Later, the press here said. La Pira changed his position.)