Mediterranean Conference Closes; Plans Parley on Arab-israel Issue
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Mediterranean Conference Closes; Plans Parley on Arab-israel Issue

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Mayor La Pira of Florence closed the Fourth Mediterranean Conference here today with an announcement that work would be started immediately on plans for the Fifth Conference to be devoted exclusively to the Arab-Israel problem.

“We shall send announcements to the Arab countries and to Israel and to other nations interested in this question,” the Mayor told the final session of the conference. He expressed hope that “the road which was opened in this hall in 1958, which led to the Algerian peace, will lead to the peace of Jerusalem, to the peace of Abraham and through to world peace.”

The “operative message” of the Fourth Conference had been a “message of peace, unity and liberation for the Mediterranean and for all its peoples,” he declared. He asserted that “despite appearances to the contrary,” the Fourth Conference had represented a hope for “solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

Israeli participants were gratified by the decision of the Conference’s steering committee to dedicate the Fifth Conference entirely to the Israel-Arab problem. Elimelich Remalt, a member of Israel’s Liberal party, speaking on his own behalf and that of other Israel participants, told the delegates that the unique importance of the Florence meeting was its atmosphere of belief in the force of spiritual and moral values and in the innate good will of men. He called Mayor La Pira’s optimism “really encouraging.”

Zubi-Abdul Aziz, the Vice-Mayor of Nazareth, also expressed hope for a dialogue between Arabs and Jews at the earliest possible time. He touched on the problems of the Arab refugees which he told the delegates “must be solved without creating new tragedies for them or tragedies for others.” The Nazareth Arab leader said that both Israel-Arab wars had brought bloodshed and destruction “but no solution.”

Michael Aillot of France, another speaker, expressed confidence that the Mayor’s hopes for Arab participation in the conferences would be realized at the Fifth Conference, The Arab countries did not participate in the Conference which closed today.

Fenner Brockway, a Labor member of the British Parliament, told the Conference that “after half a century of public life, there is nothing I would wish more than to contribute to the reconciliation of Jews and Arabs.” He added that he had many friends “on both sides” and that “I know that beneath these differences there are many excellent intentions for an understanding which would change the Mediterranean area into a garden of the world.”


The participants adopted a number of resolutions, including one dealing with “religious and cultural minorities in European communities. The resolution urged governments of Communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly the Soviet Government, to “permit free exercise of all religious and cultural life” as a means of reducing international tension.

The resolution said the refusal of those governments to do so, “sometimes aggravated by local excesses,” were in “contrast with the affirmed principles of Communism.” He also emphasized that such refusals often provoked “the reappearance of discriminations which unavoidably lead to racism and anti-Semitism.”

Mayor La Pira was urged at the Conference to convey to Pope Paul VI the “intense hope” of the delegates that the Ecumenical Council will approve the draft declaration on Catholic-Jewish relations.

The appeal to the Mayor by Daniel Mayer, head of the League for the Rights of Man in Paris, apparently was prompted by unconfirmed reports that a section of the draft specifically absolving Jews for responsibility for the Crucifixion of Christ has been at least temporarily deleted from the draft.

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