LONDON (Nov. 25)
Yasir Arafat, Palestine Liberation Organization chief, is to pay his first visit to Britain before the end of the year, to attend the launching of a new biography of him by a British journalist.
On at least three previous occasions in the past 10 years, Arafat has been expected in Britain but on each occasion the visit was cancelled following protests about the terrorist nature of the PLO. There was a similar reaction several days ago from the Israel Embassy which, answering a press inquiry, expressed “incredulity” over the PLO leader’s forthcoming visit.
An Embassy spokesman said it seemed “most unlikely that at a time when Britain was trying to enlist the support of the international community in its stated aim of combatting terrorism, the chief of an organization engaged in widespread terror should be allowed to set foot in the United Kingdom, which itself has been the scene of PLO terrorism.”
The Arafat visit is expected to coincide with a London conference on the Palestinians to be addressed by the Rev. Jessie Jackson, one of the Democratic Party’s would-be candidates in the recent U.S. Presidential election.
Coming so soon after the recent visit to Israel by British Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe, Arafat’s visit, if it takes place, is likely to reawaken Israeli suspicions of British intentions in the Middle East.