AMSTERDAM (May. 11)
Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek was maneuvered by Arab diplomats into a meeting Thursday with the Palestine Liberation Organization representative in The Hague, Afif Safieh.
The occasion was van den Broek’s biannual working luncheon with Arab ambassadors accredited to the Netherlands. This time, the envoys invited Safieh to join them, touting him as the ambassador of the “state of Palestine.”
The PLO man has no diplomatic status here. His contacts up till now have been with junior officials, never with the foreign minister.
The episode is an embarrassment to the Foreign Ministry.
It had denied any knowledge when Safieh told the news media Sunday that he would be meeting van den Broek on Thursday to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian situation and the Middle East conflict in general.
Some Liberal Party members of Parliament and pro-Israel groups urged the foreign minister not to attend the luncheon or at least not to talk to Safieh.
But van den Broek was committed to attending and therefore was unable to avoid exchanging a few words with the Palestinian. They reportedly had an informal discussion.