Italian Lawmakers Upgrade Status of PLO Delegation

Italy’s Chamber of Deputies overwhelmingly approved a motion Wednesday raising the status of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s representation in Rome from “information office” to “general delegation of Palestine.”

The measure, proposed by Foreign Minister Giulio Andreotti, was seen by some as a step toward Italy’s possible recognition of the Palestinian state proclaimed in Algiers last year.

But others, including Andreotti, maintained it was a compromise between elements pressing for formal recognition of the declared Palestinian state and those concerned that such an act would isolate Israel.

The legislative body also passed a resolution proposing that both Israel and the Palestinians be admitted into the European Community.

Andreotti paid an official visit to Israel last month. Seeking to play the role of mediator in the Middle East, he is in frequent contact with Israeli, Palestinian and other Arab representatives.

In a speech to the chamber, Andreotti reiterated his support of the Palestinian cause and of Israel’s right to secure borders.

In order to make peace, he said, “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to have a state” and “the right of Israel to live within secure borders, internationally recognized and guaranteed, have to be respected.”

PLO REPRESENTATIVE PLEASED

Andreotti warned that “if Italy tended to favor only one of these aspects, the risk would be run of dismantling the delicately balanced mechanism on which rests any hope of a global solution.”

He said that is why the chamber was right in choosing an intermediate step.

By raising the PLO’s rank but not recognizing a Palestinian state, it did not run the risk of “provoking a rigid response from those who feel their existence neglected.” He appeared to be referring to the Israelis.

“Formal recognition without a substantive prospect of peace would not serve the security of either the Israelis or the Palestinians,” Andreotti said.

Nemar Hammad, the PLO representative here, told the newspaper La Repubblica that he was satisfied with the chamber’s move, “not just because Italy, along with France, is taking an important step toward Palestine, but above all because the step will have an impact among all European countries.”

On Tuesday, French President Francois Mitterrand held a 90-minute meeting with Yasir Arafat at the Elysee Palace, the first time the Palestine Liberation Organization leader was officially received by the head of a major Western state.

Hammad maintained that Europe was of vital importance to Israel. “A Europe that takes a clear position, that recognizes the right of existence of an Israeli state but also recognizes the right of Palestinian self-determination cannot leave (Prime Minister Yitzhak) Shamir indifferent,” he said.

There was no immediate reaction from Israeli officials here.

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