Plo, Arab, Third World Delegates at Women’s Conference Walk out As Jihan Sadat Takes the Rostrum
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Plo, Arab, Third World Delegates at Women’s Conference Walk out As Jihan Sadat Takes the Rostrum

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The Palestine Liberation Organization delegation to the world conference of the United Nations Decade for Women and most Arab delegates walked out today when Mrs. Jihan Sadat, wife of the Egyptian President, began to speak. The PLO and Arab rejectionist states delegations were joined by delegates from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Cuba in the walkout which began as Mrs. Sadat started talking about “Arab Palestine.”

(Meanwhile, it was disclosed in Israel today that a group of PLO and Swedish terrorists was detained a few days ago by Swedish authorities while it was on its way to Copenhagen. It was learned that the gang intended to attack a hotel where El Al crews are staying and take them hostage. It was also learned that several Swedish members of the gang had spent some time in Israel disguised as volunteers in kibbutzim in order to collect information for the Arab terrorists. Another report said the gang was on its way to carry out several terrorist acts in Europe against Israeli installations.)

Mrs. Sadat, who heads the Egyptian delegation, looked nonplussed as the walkout began but continued reading from her prepared text during the disturbance which lasted several minutes. She said the Egyptian delegation is in favor of a resolution “demanding that Israel withdraw from the Arab lands occupied in 1967.”

Egypt’s First Lady also called for a resolution making “recommendations for specific measures to be taken to assist and support Palestinian women. Such a resolution providing for international aid to be channeled through the PLO has been approved and submitted to the conference by the 77 Group, the organization of nonaligned states. Mrs. Sadat made no mention of a proposed Cuban amendment to the resolution which lists Zionism “as one of the major evils of the world.”

In her speech, Mrs. Sadat said that “this task should be undertaken until the time comes when we see the success of the efforts made by Egypt, on its part in a spirit of honor, courage and honesty, for the affirmation of the rights of the Palestinian people to manage their own affairs on the way to self-determination. Thus, establishing a just and comprehensive peace for all the nations of the area.”

At this point, she stopped reading from her text and taking off her glasses, added: “We (the Egyptian delegation) also want to reassert the right of all nations in countries in the area to live in peace and security within safe and recognized borders.” The audience, which in spite of the walkout by some 100 delegates still consisted of over 2000 women from over 120 countries, broke out into applause and cheers. The Israeli delegation, which by alphabetical order sits in the front row, joined in and Mrs. Sadat looked at them with a slight smile.

Before the conference formally started yesterday, she invited the head of the Israeli delegation, Israel’s Ambassador to Norway Chava Hareli, to a brief “courtesy” meeting. Israeli and Egyptian sources say that no political issues were discussed.


The Israeli delegation, consisting of half a dozen prominent women representing both the Knesset and major women’s organizations, last night met with the delegates of major American Jewish women’s organizations. Among those present were Hadassah president Bemice Tannenboum and Betty Shaoro of B’nai B’rith Women. The meeting was held in view of the growing danger of a new anti-Zionist declaration to be known as “the Copenhagen Declaration.”

The Western powers on whom Israel counted for diplomatic support are currently trying to find a compromise solution which would maintain the proposed program of action, which provides for technical and economic assistance to women especially in the Third World, while including the Cuban anti-Zionist amendment in a special preliminary declaration which they would oppose. The Western compromise would thus enable these countries to vote against the anti-Zionist declaration which would nonetheless be carried by a large majority and vote in favor of the program of action.

The Israeli delegation, as well as the representatives of the various American Jewish women’s organizations had hoped for a more energetic Western response. The diplomatic advisor of the Israeli delegation, former Ambassador to the UN Dr. Ovadia Sofer, today met at length with the co-chairman of the U.S. delegation, UN Ambassador Donald McHenry.

Sofer and Hareli also called today on the conference chairman, Danish Education Minister Lise Oestergarde, to draw her attention to the psychological and moral implications for Denmark a country which had actively saved Jews during the Nazi occupation of Europe, for an anti-Zionist declaration to be made under the name “the Copenhagen Declaration.” Mrs. Oestergarde reportedly promised to do her best to try and tone down the Cuban amendment.


McHenry later told a press briefing that his delegation is holding permanent multilateral talks on this issue. “I hope that the final document would be very different from the suggestions now being made,” he said. McHenry, who was answering a question from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, said it would be inadvisable if the 1980 Copenhagen conference were to be remembered for its anti-Zionist stand. “I hope and trust that something more productive can emerge from here,” he said. “The place where the Palestinian question should be debated and will be debated adnauseum in a few days, is the General Assembly, not Copenhagen.”

McHenry and the other U.S. co-chairperson, Sarah Weddington, an assistant to President Carter, met with representatives of the nonaligned nations late today to explain the American position. Israeli diplomats, who have been concerned about the anti-Israel resolution, expressed satisfaction with the American opposition to the move. Several Israelis said they had worked throughout the day closely with the Americans on the issue.

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