Arabs Expected to Press U.N. to Upgrade Status of the PLO
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Arabs Expected to Press U.N. to Upgrade Status of the PLO

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The Arab states are expected to press the U.N. General Assembly this week to upgrade the status of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the world organization.

The assembly may also be asked by the Arabs to send U.N. troops to protect the Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to Western diplomats here.

A special session of the U.N. General Assembly is to open here Tuesday. The assembly’s annual debate on Palestine, usually conducted in New York, was shifted to U.N. European head quarters in Geneva, after the U.S. State Department refused to allow Yasir Arafat to come to New York to address the session.

As it turns out, the U.S. action seems to have guaranteed the Palestine Liberation Organization leader much wider exposure and sympathy than otherwise might have been the case. He is likely to bask in worldwide attention here for the next three days.

Arafat is expected to address the world body on Tuesday. Palestinian sources say he will deliver a “message of peace” and will ask the United Nations to help “start moving the peace process.”

He is expected to pursue the peace offensive he launched at a meeting of the Palestine National Council in Algiers last month and continued more recently in Stockholm, where he met with five American Jews.

The PNC, which serves as the PLO’s legislative body, proclaimed an independent Palestinian state in Algiers on Nov. 15. Western diplomats here expect the Arab states to press the assembly to accord the state some manner of recognition.


The PLO presently enjoys observer status at the United Nations. But that can be upgraded without the approval of the U.N. Security Council. The General Assembly is scheduled to vote on the matter Thursday.

Arafat will be ushered into the chamber Tuesday by U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perezde Cuellar and Dante Caputo, this year’s president of the General Assembly.

That is a courtesy normally reserved for heads of state. But Arafat will deliver his speech from the speakers rostrum rather than from his armchair. Addressing the body seated is a privilege granted government leaders.

When Arafat mounts the podium to speak, the Israeli delegation will walk out of the hall. The delegation is headed by the acting permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations, Ambassador Johanan Bein.

“We shall not reply to Arafat’s speech, but address the (Palestinian) issue globally, as we always do to clarify our stand,” Bein told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The U.S. delegation is headed by Ambassador Vernon Walters, the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations. Vladimir Petrovsky, the Soviet deputy foreign minister for Middle Eastern affairs, heads the Russian delegation. He will speak Wednesday.

Altogether, more than 100 U.N. member states are attending the session. The delegations include more than 20 foreign ministers.

But the only Western foreign minister present will be Karolos Papoulias of Greece. He is representing the 12-nation European Community, which he currently chairs.

Also in Geneva for the special U.N. session are a number of fringe groups, some advocating a hard line and others favoring direct talks between the PLO and Israel.

Americans for a Safe Israel and the Coalition of Conern, a group headed by New York Rabbi Avraham Weiss, held a joint news conference here Monday, warning of the danger of the PLO and calling for the extension of Israeli law to the administered territories.

Israeli peace activist Abie Nathan, on the other hand, is here to try to persuade “the two sides to talk together.”

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