MONTREAL (Apr. 5)
Zeid Terzi, a senior spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization, was scheduled to appear before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Canadian Senate in Ottawa today despite strong objections from members of Parliament and Jewish and non-Jewish sources in Canada.
Terzi, the PLO’s observer at the United Nations, was invited by the Committee to testify. He is the final witness in its two-year review of Canadian policy in the Middle East which focused primarily on the Arab-Israel conflict.
“Obviously, the invitation extended to Terzi is not for getting any additional information but in order to make a political statement,” Ann Gross, president of the Canada-Israel Committee, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
She pointed out that the Senate panel has already heard from Abdallah Abdallah, the official representative of the Arab League and of the PLO in Ottawa, in closed session, and that several members of the committee, on a recent visit to the Middle East, met with Khalid Al-Fahum, chairman of the Palestinian National Council.
“Now they invite a third representative of the PLO when they failed to invite representatives of Jordan, Syria, Israel and Saudi Arabia,” Gross said. She thought this was morally reprehensible inasmuch as Canadian public opinion is overwhelmingly opposed to the PLO.
Many members of the Senate and House of Commons expressed similar views but the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, George Van Roggan, of British Columbia, said the invitation to Terzi would not be withdrawn.
OBJECTIONS TO THE INVITATION
Rev. Rolande De Corneille, a Liberal MP from Toronto, told the Canadian Broadcasing Corp. last night that he was “completely dissatisfied with the invitation to Terzi. I cannot understand why Prime Minister Trudeau did not issue a statement on this matter. After all, the PLO is known as a terrorist organization that pursues its policies with bombs,” he said.
Another Toronto Liberal, James Peterson, said the PLO would see the invitation to Terzi as a “major leap forward to legitimacy without them making any concessions.”
Brian Mulroney, president of the opposition Conservative Party who seeks to become Prime Minister in this summer’s elections, blamed the Liberal Party for the invitation. “I would have hoped the Liberal Party would have shown more sensitivity than it did,” Mulroney said.
He pointed out that the PLO has met none of the conditions that are prerequisites to recognition by Canada. He noted that those conditions were the renunciation of terrorism, recognition of the State of Israel and willingness to seek a political solution of the Middle East conflict.