MELBOURNE (Jul. 5)
Jewish communal leaders have welcomed the decision by the Australian government to withdraw an invitation to host the Sixth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime scheduled next year in Sydney. The 1980 conference was dropped because delegates representing the Palestine Liberation Organization, which has observer status at the UN, would have been eligible to attend.
The Australian government followed the precedent set by Canada’s former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who cancelled the Fifth UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime in September 1975, because the PLO would have attended.
Although neither Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser nor the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Andrew Peacock, have publicly given the PLO’s possible attendance as the reason for withdrawing the invitation, sources close to the Prime Minister have confirmed the details.
The president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Isi Leibler, said Canberra’s decision had upheld the highest ideals of international relations and was in the best interests of Australia. “There was something particularly bizarre and hypocritical in the idea of the PLO at an international conference on the prevention of crime.” Leibler said the overwhelming majority of the Australian public quite rightly regarded the PLO as “synonymous with crime and terrorism against civilians.”
The government’s decision, however, was criticized by a number of leading criminologists who said that Australia had forfeited the opportunity to stage a prestigious conference bringing jurists, police and criminologists-together. Surprisingly, the government’s action has received very little media coverage and there has been almost no editorial comment in the Australian press.
The Fraser government, which took office in December 1975, has consistently refused to allow and has emphasized on a number of occasions its refusal to recognize the PLO in any way until that organization first recognizes Israel and abandons its war of terror.