LONDON (Jul. 5)
Protests from Jewish and non-Jewish groups continued to mount here against the projected opening of an office of the Palestine Liberation Organization in London which the government maintains it cannot legally prevent. Reginald Maudling, the Home Secretary, agreed today to receive a delegation next Tuesday from the Board of Deputies of British Jews to discuss the matter further. The PLO is the umbrella organization for Palestinian terrorist groups.
Six Conservative MPs introduced an urgent motion in Parliament last week deploring the government’s decision to allow the PLO office to open. The motion was signed by Winston Churchill, John Biggs-Davison, Anthony Fell, Hugh Fraser, Philip Goodhart and Harold Soref. Michael Fidler, president of the Board of Deputies, and himself a Conservative MP, wrote directly to Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home and Home Secretary Maudling. He received a reply from Joseph Godber, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, claiming that the government “have no power in law to refuse permission for the PLO to open an office in Britain.” Godber made a statement to that effect in Parliament. He made the point that neither the PLO office nor its occupants will have official or quasi official status or immunity. He assured Fidler that the closest scrutiny would be made of PLO members who might staff the office.
The British Poale Zion telegraphed former Premier Harold Wilson, leader of the Labor Party, urging that it “take every action to protest” the opening of a PLO office here. Victor Lucas, president of the Anglo-Jewish Association, also protested to the Home Secretary.
Meanwhile, Said Hammami, the London representative of the PLO, said he thought the office would open in 3-4 weeks. He said it would be located in central London and would be staffed by an Arab and two Englishmen. He said he would approach the Foreign Office next week for a visa for Yassir Arafat, the El Fatah chief, to come to London for the opening. Hammami said the office was intended for “information purposes” for the time being but intimated that the PLO had larger plans. “We are not asking for diplomatic status because we could not get it just yet but we are ambitious,” he told newsmen.