Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Conservative opposition leader Brian Mulroney dissociated themselves today from the meeting seven members of the Canadian Parliament had with Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat in Amman, Jordan yesterday. The MPs are on a Middle East tour sponsored by the Arab League.
The Prime Minister’s Office said Trudeau had not sanctioned the 10-day trip which the MPs, Liberals and Conservatives, made in their private capacities. An aide to Mulroney said he was not aware of the trip. The meeting was angrily denounced by Canadian Jewish groups.
According to the Arab League office in Ottawa, Arafat urged the MPs to press the Canadian government to officially recognize the PLO. An Arab League spokesman, Yassar Askari, said the MPs represented the Canada-Arab World Parliamentary Group consisting of more than 70 MPs and Senators.
JEWISH LEADER DENOUNCES MEETING
Frank Diamond, executive vice president of B’nai B’rith in Canada, said: “I am exceptionally disappointed that the members of Parliament who represent Canada would meet with a terrorist. It is particularly disappointing that they would meet with Arafat on a day that he has taken credit for ordering an explosive device to go off in a shopping center in Jerusalem.” Two grenades exploded outside a shop in West Jerusalem yesterday injuring 21 persons.
Diamond added that he regretted that the MPs were not planning to visit Israel to see “the other side of the coin.” The group’s itinerary will take them to Baghdad, the West Bank, Damascus and Tunis. They are due to return to Ottawa on March 6.
The Liberal MPs on the trip include Ian Watson and Jean LaPierre, both from Quebec, and Norm Kelly from Toronto. The Conservatives are Robert Corbett of New Brunswick; Howard Crosby of Nova Scotia; Ron Stewart of Ontario; and Lorne McCuish of British Columbia. The Canada-Israel Committee declared today that their meeting with Arafat was “an embarrassment to all Canadians.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.