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Eban Warns PLO Office in London Could Harm Anglo-israeli Relations

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Foreign Minister Abba Eban warned today that Israel’s relations with Britain would suffer a serious setback if the British government did not act to prevent the Palestine Liberation Organization from opening an office in London. The PLO is the umbrella organization for the Palestinian terrorist groups which have been waging guerrilla warfare against Israel and are responsible for widespread sabotage, hijacking and attacks on international airports.

Eban made his remarks in reply to three urgent agenda motions in the Knesset today. The motions were filed by Gahal, Haolam Hazeh and the State List, all opposition factions, in reaction to the British government’s claim that it could not legally prevent the PLO office from opening.

The question should not be solely whether British law was violated by the opening of the office but whether international law was violated in letter and spirit, Eban said. Recalling that the Council of Europe only recently urged all member states not to permit the PLO to operate in their territory, the Israeli Foreign Minister questioned whether traditional British liberalism need apply to an organization which sought to destroy freedom. The PLO, he said, could not be compared with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) or any other revolutionary organization because its aim is to wipe out a people. The only valid comparison would be with the Nazis, he said.

BEIGIN DENOUNCES ODIOUS COMPARISON

Coming after the plane hijackings, the Lydda Airport massacre and the shootings and bombings perpetrated by Arab terrorists in many countries, including Britain, the opening of a PLO office in London has particular significance, Eban said. Gahal leader Menachem Beigin who headed the Irgun Zvai Leumi, an underground organization that fought the British in Palestine during the last years of the mandate, denounced a suggestion by the British MP Christopher Mayhew that inasmuch as he had visited London recently, El Fatah chief Yassir Arafat should be allowed to come for the PLO opening. The implied comparison between Irgun and El Fatah is odious, Beigin declared.

In a related development today, a protest against the opening of a PLO office in London was presented to the British Embassy in Tel Aviv by a delegation representing the world executive of Herut Hatzair, headed by its chairman, Raphael Kotlowitz. The protest was in the form of a letter addressed to British Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Embassy officials promised to pass it on to the Foreign Secretary.

The letter observed that the terrorist organizations embraced by the PLO constitute “hostile organizations” as defined at the Nurenberg war crimes trials. “The moral code and international law place the responsibility on Her Majesty’s government to thwart the opening of such an office within its territory,” the letter said.

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