PARIS (Jun. 24)
The two West Bank mayors expelled by Israeli authorities last month were received at the French Foreign Ministry this morning. Mayor Fahd Kawasme of Hebron and Mayor Mohammed Milhim of Halhoul urged France to extend official recognition to the Palestine Liberation Organization as “the only Palestinian representative organization” and to “turn into facts” the sentiments of the PLO.
Kawasme and Milhire were accompanied to the Ministry by Ibrahim Suss, the PLO’s permanent representative in France. Yesterday, they met with French Communist Party leader Georges Marchais. Afterwards, Marchais called on “all peace loving elements” to write or cable the Israeli Embassy in Paris protesting the mayors’ expulsion.
The two were deported on grounds that their extreme nationalistic, anti-Israel statements created the atmosphere that gave rise to the May 2 ambush attack in Hebron which took the lives of six yeshiva students and wounded 16 others. Since their ouster from Israel occupied territory, the mayors have visited the U.S. and are now touring Europe. They are believed to be part of the PLO’s new diplomatic offensive aimed at obtaining official recognition from the West European countries as well as American recognition of the Palestinians as valid negotiating partners in the Middle East peace process.