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German Official’s Israeli Trip Seen As Intermediary for PLO

October 20, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A ranking West German official, who is scheduled to go to Jerusalem next week for what was officially described as “regular political consultations,” could in fact be acting as an intermediary between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

That possibility was raised here Thursday after the announcement that Jurgen Sudhoff, political director of the Foreign Ministry, would go to Jerusalem, following his meeting here Monday with Bassam Abu Sharif, a senior adviser to PLO leader Yasir Arafat.

Sudhoff was the highest ranking West German diplomat yet to meet with a PLO representative, and Israel lodged a strong protest.

But sources here suggested that Sudhoff’s reason for going to Israel now is to convey to the Israelis the ideas he discussed with Abu Sharif.

A spokesman for the Israel Embassy promptly denied that Sudhoff’s upcoming visit is in any way connected to his contact with the PLO. It was scheduled long before the Israelis knew he would be meeting with an Arafat aide, the spokesman said.

He added, however, that the German official would be free as a matter of course to raise any subject he wished.

Sudhoff, who once served as press attache at the West German Embassy in Tel Aviv, is regarded as a sincere friend of Israel.

The Foreign Ministry has explained his meeting with Abu Sharif as an effort by Bonn to exert a moderate influence on the PLO.

Sudhoff reportedly told his guest that the PLO should not insist on being included in a Palestinian delegation to talks with Israel.

The PLO office in Bonn, meanwhile, is capitalizing on its diplomatic achievement.

It is touting the Sudhoff-Sharif meeting as a “breakthrough” toward legitimizing the PLO in German public opinion.

A PLO official said it is time for the German public to realize that the Palestinian have become the victims of the Jews, who were themselves once oppressed in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

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