ROME (Sep. 24)
A two-day conference on the Palestinian issue which will involve Israelis and Palestine Liberation Organization representatives is scheduled to take place here this week. The international conference, which will also include representatives from the West and East European nations that participated in the Helsinki human rights conference, is being sponsored by the Italian Committee for Solidarity With the Palestinian People.
Among the Israelis scheduled to participate are Mattityahu Peled, Uri Avneri of Sheli, Tewfiq Toubi of Rakah, Amnon Elon and Prof. Daniel Amit of Hebrew University. Dr. Nahum Goldmann, former president of the World Jewish Congress, is also due to take part in the conference. A report that Goldmann would meet here with PLO chief east Arafat has been officially denied by Nemer Hammad, the PLO representative in Rome.
Hommad made it clear in a press conference today that Arafat would come to Rome only upon an official invitation from the government and with the prospect of holding personal talks with Premier Francesco Cossiga. Forouk Kaddoumi, the PLO’s head of foreign information, will lead the PLO delegation. Several West Bank and Gaza Sttip personalities who had sought to participate in the conference were not given visas by Israel to attend.
Hammad, in his press conference, said “it is our desire that 1979 not slip by without official relations being established between Italy and the PLO.” The time is also “ripe for Europe and the European Economic Community to take a courageous step toward the PLO, a step which it is not now possible to expect from the United States.” Hammad was apparently referring to Arafat’s success in Austria last July and in Spain last week as a breakthrough in achieving similar success in London and Paris.
Meanwhile, members of the Rakah and the PLO sat side by side at a national festival of the Italian Communist Party newspaper, L’Unita in Milan last Sunday. The occasion marked the first time that representatives of the embassies of Great Britain, Canada, Greece and Belgium participated at a Communist Party function.