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South African Jewish Leaders Protest to British Envoy over London PLO Office Plan

Representatives of South African Jewry have advised the British ambassador here of the Jewish community’s concern over the planned opening in London of an office of the Palestine Liberation Organization. A joint delegation of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation handed Sir Arthur Snelling a memorandum charging that “the activities of such an office will only serve to promote and incite further wanton acts of murder, terrorism and hijacking against innocent men, women and children of all nationalities and religious persuasions, not only in Israel but in many other countries, and on aircraft.”

Sir Arthur, according to the delegation, repeated his government’s position that it is not illegal to establish an office in Britain “to promote the cause of the Palestinian people in the United Kingdom.” The bureau, he reiterated, would not have official or quasi-official status or immunity, any illegal activities would be halted, and personnel deemed to be engaging in or planning such activities would be deported or denied admission to the country.

The British envoy pointed out that the PLO maintains offices in the United States, Yugoslavia, and China; that it is opening one in the Soviet Union; that it has legal representatives in the Arab League offices in Britain and Chile, and that it sends representatives to Arab summit meetings and the United Nations General Assembly. (The New York PLO office was wrecked by a bomb on Oct. 7, 1970.)

According to Sir Arthur, there is a long tradition in Britain that political organizations at odds with governments with which Britain has friendly relations are allowed to operate in Britain as long as they do so within the law. This policy was applied, for example, in the cases of Biafra and Bangladesh, he said. The Jewish delegation was led by I.A. Maisels, general chairman of the Zionist Federation. He was accompanied by H.S. Liebgott and J. Daleski, chairman and president of the Zionist Federation, and D.K. Mann and M. Porter, chairman and president of the Board of Deputies.

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