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Legislation Sought to Prevent Israelis from Meeting PLO Reps

January 24, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The government was reported today to be seeking legal means to prevent Israeli citizens from meeting with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The Cabinet was believed to have discussed the matter at its weekly session this morning but there was no confirmation of that report.

Later, the Cabinet was reported to have asked Justice Minister Moshe Nissim and Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir to prepare a legal opinion on the possibility of amending present laws to make illegal any contacts between Israelis and the PLO.

The matter arose from the apparent meeting last week between three members of the Israel Council for Israel-Palestine Peace with PLO chief Yasir Arafat, believed to have taken place in Tunis. The Israelis involved were Gen. (res.) Mattityahu Peled, Uri Avneri, editor and publisher of the magazine Haolam Haze, and Dr. Yaacov Arnon.

The PLO announced that the meeting had taken place and Peled confirmed it on a television interview where he displayed a photograph of the three Israelis with Arafat. Neither the Israelis nor the PLO would confirm that the site was in Tunis.

Peled and his group, associated with the leftist Sheli faction, were fiercely denounced by several Cabinet ministers, most vociferously by Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Deputy Foreign Minister Yehuda Ben-Meir who accused the Shell group of treason.

The Labor Party was also sharply critical, observing that the meeting made it more difficult for Israel to persuade the U.S. and other Western nations to refrain from any contacts with the PLO until the latter abandoned the section of its covenant which calls for the destruction of Israel.

Peled insisted last week that he and his colleagues had violated no law. He said the purpose of the meeting had been to explore means of peaceful co-existence between Israel and a Palestinian state. He stressed there was nothing new in the policies of the Israeli Peace Council. Its aims and the meetings of its leaders with PLO representatives have been common knowledge for years, he said. Arafat was reported to have expressed satisfaction and admiration for the work of the “peace parties and groups” within Israel. The PLO was reported to be considering an invitation to Peace Council representatives to attend next month’s meeting of the Palestinian National Council in Algiers. Peled has said if the Council were invited, it would attend the meeting as observers.

There is, apparently, no law on the books at this time that makes such meetings illegal. Energy Minister Yitzhak Modai reportedly raised the need for such a law at today’s Cabinet meeting. He said prior to the meeting that it was unfortunate that Israel would have to resort to legislation on issues which were obvious to the U.S. and to Britain.

The U.S. has refused any contact with the PLO unless it recognizes Israel and accepts UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher recently refused to receive an Arab League delegation, headed by King Hassan of Morocco, because one of its members was Farouk Kaddoumi, PLO’s foreign affairs spokesman.


The lack of a pertinent law has prevented Attorney General Zamir so far from instituting legal action against Peled, Avneri and others in the Peace Council who have met with PLO representatives abroad in recent years. But a Likud lawyer, Yedidya Be’eri, has appealed to the Supreme Court for a ruling that would allow action against Peled. The case is still pending.

Also pending is a decision whether to bring legal action against Avneri and two of his reporters who met with Arafat in west Beirut while that city was under siege by Israeli forces last summer. The matter is awaiting a decision by a Haifa district court where the complaint was filed.

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