Israel moves to legalize PLO contacts

December 03, 1992|By Boston Globe

JERUSALEM -- In a historic step, the Israeli government ha moved to legalize contact between Israelis and members of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

While officials said they would still refuse to negotiate directly with the PLO, some government officials privately described the change as the first step in what could one day become a dialogue.

Justice Minister David Libai introduced legislation in the Knesset annulling the ban on contacts, telling a news conference yesterday that he considered the change "a great step forward." He said the change would take about a month but that passage was guaranteed because the Labor-led governing coalition had a Knesset majority.

Although the law barring contact is only 6 years old, before that there were few public meetings between Israelis and PLO officials.

This was largely because it was only in 1988 that the PLO acknowledged the existence of Israel, calling for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip rather than in all of mandatory Palestine, its previous long-standing policy.

In the months since last June's election of Yitzhak Rabin as prime minister, Yasser Arafat, the PLO chairman, has called repeatedly for the two of them to meet.

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