Romanian Leader Vows Break with Plo, Makes a Rare Visit to the West Bank

Visiting Romanian President Ion Iliescu reiterated Tuesday that his country has broken ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Iliescu made a similar statement during a meeting last October with World Jewish Congress leaders in New York, who had expressed concern about the assistance the PLO received from the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, who was overthrown and executed in December 1989.

On his second day in Israel, Iliescu saw both the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. As such, he became one of the few foreign heads of state to visit the West Bank recently.

Under tight security measures, Iliescu was whisked into the church, where a Romanian-speaking tour guide gave him background on the site and a Greek Orthodox priest presented him with candles.

Asked to comment on the significance of his visit to the administered territories, Iliescu insisted it was inappropriate to “talk politics inside the church.”

Outside, Iliescu told reporters that after a day and a half in the country, agreements had already been forged between Romania and Israel.

“We find a very good climate of friendship and bilateral cooperation,” he said.

Iliescu ended his sightseeing tour with visits to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Because of Rosh Hashanah, the JTA Daily News Bulletin will not be printed Monday through Wednesday, Sept. 9 to 11. JTA wishes its readers a happy and healthy new year.

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