PARIS (Jul. 26)
Repeated contacts between Chinese diplomats of the Peoples Republic and Eli Ben-Gal, representative of the Israeli Mapam Party, were reported here today. The last of a series of meetings between the representative of the leftwing Zionist party and the diplomats from Peking in Paris, was held this afternoon, it was reliably learned by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Ben-Gal met various Embassy staff members repeatedly and some of these conversations were held at their own request. It was reported that possible diplomatic relations between Jerusalem and Peking were not discussed. On the other hand, Ben-Gal and the Chinese covered all the Middle Eastern problems in their talks.
In spite of the “unofficial” character of the talks, further underscored by the fact that Ben-Gal is not a diplomat, is not representing the State of Israel, or even his own party, the conversations, nonetheless, have considerable political significance. Israel recognized the Peoples Republic of China defacto as long ago as January, 1950. Since that time, however, no amelioration was ever noted in the relations between the two countries. Beginning with her stand at the Third World Banding Conference. China has always taken up unconditionally the defense of the Arab cause and since the June, 1967 was China has supported the Palestinian organizations by extending both ideological and material help to the more extreme guerrillas–the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Popular Front. Fatah guerrillas, too, have been trained in special Chinese camps. Since President Nixon announced his forthcoming Peking trip next spring, political observers seemed to note some improvement in Chinese Middle East politics. The contacts between Ben-Gal and the Chinese diplomats must be seem in this context.
The JTA learned from a telephone conversation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Peking that China’s basic Middle East position had not changed sine Premier Chou En Lai made his famous statement on the Middle East, three years ago that only a “military and revolutionary solution to the Palestinian problem” was possible. Nonetheless, one might see in the very readiness of the Chinese Peoples diplomats to talk to the JTA some change, if not of the Chinese stand, at least of their tactics. A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Paris. Tsa Kwei Seng, told JTA this evening that “no member of the Embassy bad met Ben-Gal.” To the question whether Ben-Gal might have met the Chinese diplomats outside the Embassy’s premises, Mr. Seng answered: “This information is pure fabrication and a provocation. I continue to affirm that there were no talks, neither at the Embassy nor outside it, in fact, in no possible way whatever.” The denial is typical of Chinese diplomatic tactics. The Chinese never acknowledge conversations, as long as no high-ranking political decisions have been taken. These tactics were used a few weeks ago, before President Nixon announced his Peking trip. At that time. Chinese-American contacts were formally disavowed by Peking.