GENEVA (Jun. 14)
War talk intruded on the International Labor Conference here today when the Iraqi Labor Minister proposed to his Iranian counterpart that Iraq and Iran end their 33 month-old conflict and join forces to fight “the Israeli enemy that has been flouting international law and committing crimes in Palestine.”
His remarks drew a sharp response from Ambassador Ovedia Soffer, the Israeli delegate who observed: “The Iraqi government is known for its persecution of Kurds and other minorities, Of course, its Ambassador’s appeal from this rostrum that the Iraqi-Iranian war should stop in order to start another war against Israel gives him the right to preach to the rest of the world on the subject of war.”
Soffer also challenged the Syrian delegate “to inform us who is responsible for obstructing the implementation” of the agreement concluded between Israel and Lebanon last month for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon. “Perhaps he would like to explain the reasons for his government’s stubborn refusal to cooperate … his government’s refusal to respect the strong wishes of the government and people of Lebanon,” Soffer said.
Meanwhile, the Iranian Labor Minister, Mohomed Mahallati, said in an interview published in the daily La Tribune de Geneve, that “Israel has to disappear as a Zionist state, and only bearing this in mind can the Palestine Liberation Organization work hand-in-hand with the revolutionary forces in the region.” Mahallati was commenting on the recent mutiny by PLO hardliners against Yasir Arafat. He suggested that this development was “the consequence of the fact that some in the PLO have forgotten that there can be no reconciliation with Israel.”