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Despite Opposition, PLO Has Been Invited to Send Observers to Inter-parliamentary Confab in Britain

Despite strong opposition from Britain and other Western parliamentary delegations, the PLO has been invited to send observers to attend meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary delegations, the PLO has been invited to send observers to attend meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in London in September. It is understood that although the PLO representatives will not be allowed to vote, it is highly likely that they will be given permission to address one of the meetings, if the president agrees. More than 1200 delegates from all over the world will be attending the conference.

Thomas Williams, Labor MP for Warrington, chairman of the British group, intimated that as president acting for the host nation, he would give permission “if this was the majority view of the delegates.” He confirmed that the British delegation had opposed the PLO presence but not on ideological grounds. The decision to invite the PLO was taken after Afro-Asian pressure had been exerted at a preliminary meeting in Sri Lanka in April.

Williams said: “We took the view–and it was supported by other Western delegations– that although there is provision in the rules governing the conference for the invitation of international bodies, such as the UN, UNESCO and that kind, there is not for other types of bodies like the Palestine National Council, which represents the scattered PLO throughout the world.” It was the Palestine National Council that had asked for permission to send PLO representatives. Williams said.

He added: “We feel that if the IPU invited groups of that kind, the rules should be changed in the future to include other organizations. After all, what is to stop the IRA (Irish Republican Army), for example, making a similar request?”

Meanwhile, strong representations have been made to the British government by the Israeli Embassy and various prominent members of the Anglo-Jewish community at the prospect of the PLO being permitted to attend the projected IPU meeting here in September.