Irish Pro-palestinian Groups Ready Hostile Reception for Herzog

Pro-Palestinian groups and Arab students are preparing to give a hostile reception to Israeli President Chaim Herzog who is due to start a state visit here Monday.

Among critics of the visit are the Irish-Arab Parliamentary Group, the Ireland Friends of Palestine, and the recently-formed Friends of Palestine, an umbrella group which includes left-wing students, members of Sinn Fein (political wing of the IRA) and a large number of Arab students who plan a march through Dublin next Wednesday, the third day of the visit.

The activities of these groups have been receiving front page coverage in the Irish Times newspaper, usually alongside reports of events in Lebanon, where Irish troops are serving with the United Nations. However, among Irish government and official opposition circles, the campaign against Herzog’s visit is proving counter-productive.

Two weeks ago, Michael Lanigan, the leader in the Senate of Fianna Fail, the main opposition party, called for the withdrawal of the invitation to Herzog because of Israeli policy in south Lebanon.

But Lanigan has been publicly repudiated by his party, and on Tuesday he failed to turn up at a public protest meeting of the Ireland Friends of Palestine.

During Herzog’s visit, the same organization intends to lobby the Irish Parliament, and to stage a vigil at the Garden of Remembrance where the Israeli President is to lay a wreath in memory of Ireland’s national heroes.

Meanwhile, the Irish police, the Gardai, are planning security precautions similar to those adopted during President Reagan’s visit two years ago. This is a fairly low profile visit but it will have a high profile security element, an official told the press.

The Irish Special Branch is said to be monitoring the activities of Dublin’s Arab student population and to be in close contact with the British police, who have been particularly watchful of movements by Libyan nationals.

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