PARIS (Nov. 2)
The French government has authorized the Palestine Liberation Organization to open a permanent information and liaison bureau here. The decision, announced Friday afternoon, was reportedly taken by French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing personally. Although the PLO representatives will not enjoy diplomatic privileges and status, the French authorization is seen as a semi-official recognition of the terrorist organization.
The French decision was announced on the even of Giscard d’Estaing’s forthcoming official visits to Egypt and Saudi Arabia and while French Foreign Minister Jean Sauvagnargues, is in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, where he met King Khaled and top officials.
French sources explained here that the decision was taken as part of the French thesis that no settlement in the Middle East can be achieved without the Palestinians’ participation. The French also claim that the authorization only gives legal status to a PLO bureau which has been operating in Paris for some years now as part of the Arab League. The French also believe the new status granted the Palestinians will make France immune from terrorist attacks.
WIDE-SPREAD PROTESTS MOUNTED
The French decision has given rise to wide-spread protests. A French Senator, Pierro Giraud, Paris Socialist, has already submitted a parliamentary question, and a Centrist Deputy, Jacques Soustelle, is due to raise the issue tomorrow when the National Assembly (Lower House) reconvenes.
The parliamentary group of the Reformist Party, led by Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber, is holding on Tuesday an emergency session to discuss this issue, and several other French political parties are planning similar meetings.
The French Jewish community is also reacting with uncommon anger. The Representative Council of French Jewish Organizations (CRIF) is holding an emergency session tomorrow and will probably ask its President, Jean Rosenthal, to convey the Jewish community’s feelings to the French authorities. Other French Jewish organizations are also planning appeals to the authorities and to public opinion.
Jewish and pro-Israeli circles in France fear that France’s pro-PLO initiative might be followed by a number of other West European countries. This is the main reason why these circles and organizations plan to press their protests with the utmost energy to obtain a reversal of the government’s decision.
Jewish organizations throughout Western Europe plan to stage similar protests, mass-meetings and appeals to public opinion stressing that PLO recognition would endanger the precariously established peace which now seems to reign in the Middle East.
FRANCE’S ATTITUDE TERMED HYPOCRITICAL
Israeli diplomats in West European capitals have reportedly been instructed to call on the various foreign ministries and make Israel’s position clear. In Paris, the Israeli Charge d’Affaires, Minister Mordechai Drori, is expected to call tomorrow at the Quai d’Orsay and deliver an official protest.
Israel’s feelings have been further ruffled by France’s recent agreement to a common declaration by the foreign ministers of the EEC condemning the United Nations resolution on Zionism and racism. Israeli circles here describe the French attitude as “hypocritical” and hope Giscard d’Estaing will reconsider his position.
Israeli diplomats here were told France had informed its European partners in advance, before announcing its decision. Apparently none of these West European governments saw fit to inform Israel in turn.