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Plo’s Latest Bid for Recognition is to Sign Geneva Conventions

August 2, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Palestine Liberation Organization has applied for the second time to be a signatory to the Geneva Conventions as the “State of Palestine,” and the petition has Israel worried.

According to Israeli Embassy sources in Bern, the situation is very delicate.

The Swiss government, which is the guardian of the Geneva Conventions, rejected a similar appeal in May because the application was improperly filed. It is now expected to reconsider the appeal.

The PLO has also applied for membership in the Madrid-based World Tourist Organization, according to the Washington Jewish Week.

The United States is supporting Israel in calling for rejection of the PLO bids.

In Washington, the assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, John Bolton, told the Washington Jewish Week that the PLO’s ongoing effort to gain recognition by world bodies could strain its dialogue with the United States.

A spokesperson at the Swiss Foreign Ministry in Bern told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that so far no decision has been taken on the bid to sign the Geneva Conventions. A decision will most probably not be taken until September at the earliest.

An Israeli source in Bern, the Swiss capital, said Israel would view the acceptance of “Palestine” to the Geneva Conventions as “a terrible act, as it would open the door to the PLO being accepted in practically all U.N. organizations, and it would give it legitimacy.”

The Geneva Conventions are a series of international agreements that began in 1864 concerning the treatment of prisoners of war and of the sick, wounded and dead in battle. The Swiss government is responsible for accepting or rejecting applications of proposed signatories.


Switzerland is under obligation to announce in writing to all signatory states when a state asks to adhere to the conventions.

Critics of Israel, especially the PLO, have repeatedly invoked the Geneva Conventions when complaining that Israel defies international law by deporting Palestinians it categorizes as terrorists.

The latest applications are among several attempts the PLO has made within the last three months to be officially accepted by world bodies, including the World Health Organization, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the International Telecommunications Union.

The WHO and UNESCO voted May 12 and June 14 respectively to defer considering the PLO’s status. The ITU simply tabled an Arab League initiative to admit the PLO and expel Israel.

Negative reaction to the latest PLO push for legitimacy was registered by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

In a July 27 letter to Swiss Foreign Minister Rene Felber, ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, said that “permitting the PLO back-door entry into the international community sends a signal to the PLO that it is not expected to uphold the standards of civilized society.”

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