Europeans Shun Arafat, Too; Greece May Recognize Israel
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Europeans Shun Arafat, Too; Greece May Recognize Israel

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Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat will not be invited to the summit meeting of European Community leaders in Rhodes next weekend, Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias assured Jewish leaders here.

He also said that Greece would extend de jure recognition to Israel in the very near future.

Papoulias met Thursday with Jean Kahn, vice president of the European Jewish Congress; its director, Serge Cwajgenbaum; and Joseph Lovinger, president of the Central Jewish Board of Greece.

He laid to rest rumors that Arafat would be asked to Rhodes by the chiefs of state and heads of government of the 12 nations of the European Community, who will be meeting on the Greek island Dec. 2 to 3.

Greece currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the E.C. Council of Ministers.

It is the only European Community nation that does not have full diplomatic relations with Israel, and Papoulias indicated that would soon be rectified.

Greece reportedly was prepared last week to recognize the Palestinian state Arafat proclaimed Nov. 15 in Algiers. At the same time it would upgrade its diplomatic ties with Israel.

But the idea apparently was dropped because the E.C. foreign ministers were unable to formulate a joint position on the Palestinian state at their Nov. 21 meeting in Brussels.

The Jewish leaders asked Papoulias to pressure the PLO to recognize Israel explicitly and to abandon its covenant calling for the destruction of Israel. Greece is believed to have some influence over the PLO, which maintains a diplomatic mission in Athens.

Papoulias replied that Greece would like to bring all parties to the dispute to the negotiating table.

The Jewish delegation also asked Papoulias to raise the plight of Syrian Jews with President Hafez Assad of Syria and, specifically, to seek the release of six Jews in Syrian prisons.

Papoulias promised to do what he could. The Jewish leaders told reporters afterward that they left their meeting with the Greek foreign minister with “a positive feeling and a good impression.”

They also met with Moshe Gilboa, Israel’s diplomatic representative in Greece.

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