Swiss Shocked by Announcement That Palestinian Meeting Will Be Held in Geneva in August
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Swiss Shocked by Announcement That Palestinian Meeting Will Be Held in Geneva in August

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The Swiss government and officials at the United Nations were shocked here today to learn that the scheduled conference on Palestinian rights which was forced to cancel a meeting in Paris this August reportedly due to French pressure, will take place here in August.

The conference, which was met with fierce opposition when it was announced that Paris had been chosen as the venue for the August 16-24 meeting, was abandoned by the committee responsible for planning the conclave. The date and location of the conference had been fixed by a General Assembly resolution adopted last December.

But the news of the conference to take place at the UNESCO building, precipitated some reservation from the Swiss government and from police authorities that Geneva was not capable of providing the security necessary for the conference.

Some 1,000 delegates are expected to participate. Swiss officials have also expressed concern that hotels in the city will be unable to accomodate all the guests.


Francesca Pometa, head of the UN division at the Swiss Foreign Office, said this morning that the Swiss government expressed certain reservations concerning the meeting taking place in Geneva. Specifically the problem relates to security.

During a debate in Parliament earlier this week, Swiss Foreign Minister Pierre Auber also mentioned the security problems and the fact that there would be difficulty finding accomodations in August, the height of the tourist season here. Auber said however that according to international law, the UN was free to hold any conference and at any time they choose at the UN premises in Geneva.

Minister of Police Guy Fontanet was furious at the news that the meeting would take place here, saying that he had no idea where he would find sufficient security and police force in August to replace all those who were on vacation.

The objection to the meeting in Paris had focused on security problems as the French government had made it clear that it was fearful that such a conclave might touch off anti-Semitic incidents as well as attract terrorists to Paris from all over the Middle East.


Meanwhile, at the UN the mood was also gloomy. Many UN officials feared that their summer vacations might be interrupted by the conference. And this opinion was also expressed by the UN press corps that are furious they will also be forced to cancel their plans for the customary August vacation.

The Minister of Police is scheduled to call a press conference tomorrow to expand on their security concerns and the Jewish community is also expected to file protests.

In New York, the Israeli mission to the United Nations called the scheduled conference an “exercise in PLO propaganda” which will not achieve solving any problems of the Palestinian people.

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