GENEVA (Jun. 23)
The Federation of Swiss Jewish Communities has protested vehemently to President Pierre Auber over his government’s decision, albeit reluctant, to host the United Nations Conference on Palestine in Geneva from August 29-September 7.
In a letter to Auber, who is also Foreign Minister, the Jewish body said it would strive up to the last minute to prevent the conference from being held here because it is incompatible with the essence of the UN Charter. The letter contended that the Palestine conference will not serve the cause of peace but will only support those who aspire to destroy Israel by all means, including international terrorism.
Auber met with the Minister of Police yesterday to discuss preparations for the conference. They said at a press conference later that 2,000 persons are expected to attend, including the delegates, the secretariate and the press. The conference, to be paid for by the UN, is estimated to cost $6 million. It was switched to Geneva after the French government refused to have it in Paris, the original site, and the Austrian government ruled out Vienna.
SECURITY IS MAIN PROBLEM
The main problem cited by the various governments was security, particularly the danger that the gathering could attract terrorist elements. Strong political pressure was brought to bear by Israel and its friends to deny the conference any meeting place. The Swiss were upset and embarrassed when the UN asked for Geneva but felt finally that they could not deny a request from the world organization which maintains its European headquaters here. The Geneva city fathers have appealed to the Swiss Confederation to supply troops to help maintain security.
The Swiss press is almost unanimously opposed to the conference. The Journal D’Geneve warned today that in view of the rebellion now going on in the Palestine Liberation Organization, the city may be turned into a battlefield. “We in Geneva are accustomed to host conferences on peace, not conferences inciting to hatred” the paper said in an editorial.
The European regional preparatory meeting for the conference is scheduled to be held here July 4-8. The conference organizers are seeking someone of ministerial rank to preside at this meeting and turned to Foreign Minister Erwin Lane of Austria. He declined however on grounds that there was insufficient time to prepare.
The conference is to debate the origins and evolution of the Palestine problem; the economic viability of a Palestinian state; and the reports of the various UN commissions on Israeli practices in the occupied territories.