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Australian Jews Outraged at Decision to Reinstate High-level PLO Contacts

May 8, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The government’s surprise decision to reinstate high-level contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization has drawn expressions of incredulity and outrage from the Jewish community.

The announcement Wednesday night by Sen. Gareth Evans, the minister for foreign affairs, reversed a policy Australia adopted when the PLO supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait last year.

Australia “is not really contributing in a positive sense to the peace conference,” said Isi-Leibler, an Australian Jewish leader who is co-chairman of the World Jewish Congress.

Jews were especially incensed that the foreign minister made the move with no prior communication.

Evans announced the policy change on the eve of a trip to Europe and the Middle East. It will allow him to meet formally with PLO officials during the trip and permit his government colleagues to receive PLO representatives in Australia.

Evans claimed the PLO’s “generally constructive role” in the current peace process justified the lifting of the ban on contacts.

Leibler said Australian Jews were “incredulous” because “there has been no indication by the PLO over the last few months that they have moved toward moderation.”

Dr. Colin Rubenstein, a lecturer in Middle East politics at Melbourne’s Monash University, contended that Evans’ decision “will undermine the position of Palestinians who genuinely seek peace with Israel.”

The announcement, made on the eve of Israel’s Independence Day, also drew criticism for its timing.

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