Israelis, Arabs, Discuss Mideast Peace at Bologna Conference

The Bologna Conference for Peace and Justice in the Middle East ended yesterday with an appeal to Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. In a final communique, the conference called on all nations to work for a peaceful solution in the Middle East on the basis of the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 242. The conference was held over the weekend under the auspices of the Communist controlled Emilia Romagna Regional Administration which has its headquarters in Bologna.

For the first time since the 1967 war, Arab and Israeli delegates together discussed the Middle East problem. Delegations representing Israeli opposition forces sat in the same room with representatives from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Morocco and Jordan. But one disappointment for the organizers was the absence of any representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization because of recent events in Lebanon.

Israeli Communist Tawfik Toubi agreed with some of his Arab co-delegates that “small but courageous” forces in Israel are firmly opposed to what he called the “expansionist and oppressive” policy of the Israeli government. He said the Israeli opposition had come to Bologna not only in search of solidarity but also to join a common fight for peace.

Other delegations came from the Soviet Union and Soviet-bloc countries; North Korea; North Vietnam and the Vietnamese Liberation Front; the United States and Canada; several European and African countries and a number of left-wing. Third World, trade union and peace organizations.

Toubi accused both the U.S. and Israel of joint responsibility for the failure to apply Resolution 242. He was supported by Knesset member Uri Avneri, who said the rebirth of the Israeli people “cannot and must not rest on the ruins of another people.”

The final document alleged that Israel is colonizing occupied territories and adopting measures tending toward permanent demographic and territorial changes in the area and appealed to “parliamentarians and governments of all nations” to seek a political solution to the conflict by implementing UN resolutions. In another measure, the conference sent a telegram to Yassir Arafat, PLO leader, expressing its “solidarity with the Palestine people in the face of attacks by the Lebanese Army.”

A special commission proposed that the Bologna conference set up some kind of permanent secretariat to carry forward its work, and the formation of national committees to propagandize the need for peace in the Middle East. Although the conference was non-governmental, organizers said several governments and UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim had expressed their interest in being informed about its results.

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