GENEVA (Mar. 3)
Israel has protested vehemently to the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union for inviting the Palestine National Council to its first Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean region, which opens June 15 in Malaga, Spain.
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Yitzhak Lior, made clear that if the Palestinians are invited, the Knesset may decide to boycott the conference.
The Tunis-based PNC, called the Palestinian parliament in exile, proclaimed in 1988 an independent “state of Palestine.”
Though dominated by Yasir Arafat’s branch of the Palestine Liberation Organization and regarded by Israel as a PLO “front,” it embraces most Palestinian nationalist factions, including the most extreme.
Israel considers it an affront that the PNC has been invited to the IPU’s Mediterranean parley at all, let alone as an “associate participant,” the same status given non-Mediterranean powers like the United States, Britain and Russia.
The five-day conference will be the first step toward establishing permanent machinery for dialogue and negotiations between nations of the Mediterranean littoral.
It will decide on follow-up measures and possible future action by the IPU in the field of Mediterranean security and cooperation. The conference will close June 20.
The IPU was founded in 1889 to promote personal contacts among the members of the world’s parliaments as a way to advance international peace and cooperation.
At present, a total of 116 national parliaments are affiliated. The conference preparatory committee consisted of Egypt, France, Morocco, Spain and Tunisia.
Between 1973 and 1991, the IPU organized seven conferences on security and cooperation in Europe. The first, held in Helsinki, Finland, preceded by several weeks the intergovernmental conference there and constituted the first truly pan-European meeting of the postwar era.
It has since served as a laboratory to test political ideas, a role it proposes to continue in the context of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean.