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Israel Protests Canadian Move to Raise Level of Talks with PLO

Israel has lodged a formal protest with Canada over its decision last week to begin talks at the ministerial level with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Deputy Foreign Minister Binymin Netanyahu summoned Canadian Ambassador James Bartleman Sunday to deliver Israel’s response to the move. He told the envoy that Israel is “deeply disappointed.”

Netanyahu’s statement asserted that Canada’s action would strengthen the PLO and encourage Palestinians to believe that a separate state is the only solution to the conflict. This, in turn, would deter local moderates from joining the political process.

Observers here see the Canadian timing as part of a wider Western effort to put pressure on Israel in advance of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s talks in Washington this week.

They link it to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s statement in Morocco last week urging Israel to talk with its enemies and to French President Francois Mitterrand’s announcement, also last week, that he will meet soon on French soil with PLO leader Yasir Arafat.

There is no authoritative reading here as to whether the U.S. administration was consulted prior to these various actions.

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