Canada’s Dialogue with PLO Denounced by Jewish Leaders

Canadian Jewish leaders have condemned their government’s decision to open a dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Caught off-guard Thursday by reports of a meeting between Canadian and PLO officials at United Nations headquarters in New York, the leaders of Canada’s main Jewish organizations held an emergency telephone conference call lasting nearly to dawn on Friday.

In a statement released after the call, they said the Canadian government’s decision to lift its restrictions on official contacts with the PLO represents “a deeply disturbing departure from Canada’s traditional constructive policy with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

The leaders also refuted denials by External Affairs Minister Joe Clark that the government had endorsed a Palestinian state.

The leaders said a reference by Clark supporting “Palestinian self-determination” was tantamount to support for such a state.

“It is a simple fact,” they said, “that everyone in the Middle East — Israel, the Palestinians, the PLO and the Arab countries — interprets the words ‘Palestinian self-determination’ as meaning an independent Palestinian state.”

Furthermore, they said, the government appears to have abandoned “the fundamental principle that peace in the Middle East can be achieved only through direct negotiations among the parties directly involved.”

The leaders concluded by stressing that Canada should now at least exert its influence and demand that the PLO renounce all forms of terrorism and to retract sections of the Palestine National Covenant calling for Israel’s destruction.

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