Shocked by the Results of Israeli Aggression:
FOREIGN DELEGATIONS VISITING THE P.L.O.
Among the many guests attending the celebrations on the 17th anniversary of the Palestinian Revolution on January 1 were people from all over the world, including several delegations from the United States of America, Canada, Brazil, Norway, Puerto Rico, the GDR, Yugoslavia and Australia. They all saw popular marches and parades, listened to the speeches and were enthusiastic at the folklore performances. Most of them also attended a special reception given for them by PLO Chairman Arafat at the orphans' school of Souq al-Gharb. The delegations also became acquainted with the numerous social and educational institutions organised by the PLO, the hospitals of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and the workshops of SAMED.
U.S. professors during their visit to south Lebanon
They also visited the south of Lebanon and saw with their own eyes the devastation of homes, crops and public institutions caused by the Israeli aggressors in their continuous raids on Palestinian refugee camps and Lebanese villages. They were all deeply impressed by the suffering and the struggle of the people living there.
Among the foreign guests was a significant American delegation comprising professors from various universities and states. They were led by Professor Philip Rivera from the Lincoln Land College in Illinois. In their meetings with Chairman Arafat and Abu Jihad, as well as other leaders of the PLO, they explained how useful and impressive were the direct experiences which they could gain by seeing the truth on the ground, and they expressed their dismay over the use of U.S.-supplied weapons in the barbaric attacks against the Lebanese and Palestinian people. Chairman Arafat also discussed with them the arrogance of the Zionist state due to the unlimited support it receives from the Reagan administration. He added that the Palestinian people were striving towards a just peace and they are struggling in order to realise this peace, which is dependent on the Palestinian people realising their rights to return, self-determination and the establishment of their own independent state.
The head of the delegation, Dr. Rivera, stated that now more than ever, his delegation was convinced of the justness of the Palestinian people's struggle based on the humanitarian principles by which this people wish to realize their aims. He severely condemned American official policy which is biased towards the Zionist aggressor against the Palestinian cause in the United States. Before leaving for a tour of occupied Palestine, the American delegation also met with Lebanese officials, amongst them Lebanese Foreign Minister Fuad Boutros.
AMERICAN CLERGYMAN DENOUNCES ISRAELI TERROR
The American Reverend Donald Wagner headed a delegation from the American Council of Churches which visited the PLO in Lebanon in early January and then went on to investigate conditions of the Palestinians living in the territories under Zionist occupation. Back in Washington, Wagner held a press conference on January 13 and declared that the regime in Tel Aviv, which benefits from the total support of the United States government, is strengthening its terror and repression against_ the Arab population in the occupied territories. Wagner stated that the religious delegation found that a growing number of Palestinians are being forced to flee their native land to escape the terror practised by the occupiers. Israeli soldiers are blowing up Palestinian homes leaving entire families homeless. Wagner stated that the members of the clerical delegation had spoken with representatives of the Israeli administration who cynically alleged that such measures, and likewise the bombing of Beirut, were necessary to "assure the security of Israel". Wagner said that members of the delegation were so indignant at these remarks that they walked out of the meeting. Wagner called upon the Reagan administration to put an end to its unconditional support which it accords to Israeli policy towards the occupied territories. Wagner finally stated that if radical measures are not taken immediately to find a solution to the Middle East crisis, there might be a massive bloodbath.
The "Christian Clergy and Laity Travelling Seminar" in cooperation with the Middle East Council of Churches organised another delegation from the United States, under the banner "Christian Presence and Witness in the Middle East Today". Led by the Reverend Donald Wagner, campus minister at the Northwestern University of Evanston I.C., they were visiting Lebanon and the PLO before touring the occupied territories of Palestine. They met with Chairman Arafat, Abu Jihad and Abu al-Walid from the PLO leadership. Besides visiting various Palestinian institutions, they made an information tour of southern Lebanon, were they met with inhabitants from the Palestinian refugee camp of Rashidiyeh. They also had talks with the Governor of southern Lebanon, Halim Fayad, in Saida. He explained to them that the repeated Israeli aggression against Lebanon aims at dealing a blow against the Lebanese formula of non-sectarian coexistence between numerous sects and beliefs, and at preventing legality from exerting its authority throughout the Lebanese territory. Before leaving Lebanon, the American delegation was also received by Lebanese Prime Minister Shafiq al-Wazzan as well as Foreign Minister Fuad Boutros. Back in the United States, the delegation issued an important statement at a press conference in Washington (see box).
Another delegation came from Brazil, comprising journalists and T.V. officials, among them a member of parliament and former minister, as well as members of the Union of the Palestinian Community in Brazil. They visited schools, SAMED factories and hospitals of the PRCS. In the Arqoub region in southern Lebanon they met with fighters of the joint Palestinian-Lebanese forces defending the border area and could see far into Israeli-occupied Palestine. In their meetings with Chairman Arafat, Abu Iyad and Abu Jihad, they also discussed ways to help in promoting the truth about the Palestinian cause in Brazil.
WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES DELEGATION VISITS HEBRON MUNICIPALITY
On January 6, a 15-member delegation of the World Council of Churches visited the Hebron municipality, where they met Mustafa al-Natsheh and Hijazi Mudiyeh, acting Mayors of Hebron and Halhoul respectively, as well as Dora Mayor Muhammad Musa Amir and other local leaders.
The delegation was briefed on the situation in the occupied territories, and on the Israeli authorities' practices in the Hebron area in particular. The Church people learned about the terrorist activities of the Kiryat Arba settlers, the successive curfews imposed on Hebron and the surrounding villages, the attempts to colonise the town of Hebron itself, the continued occupation of Usama Ibn Munqidh School, and the other excesses of the military authorities.
The delegation was further informed of the systematic Israeli campaign to strangle the West Bank economy and deprive Palestinian children of an adequate education. The municipal leaders finally affirmed the Palestinian people's commitment to realising their rights, including that of establishing their own independent state on their land under the leadership of their sole legitimate representative, the PLO.
The Organisation of Arab Students in the United States and Canada were represented by a delegation, which had talks with Chairman Arafat and various other leaders of the PLO, including Abu Iyad, Abu Jihad and Hani al-Hassan, Nayef Hawatmeh from the Democratic Front and representatives of the Popular Front and the Arab Liberation Front, and also with leaders of the Lebanese National Movement.
The General Secretary of the Organisation of Arab Students in the United States and Canada, Said Fais, confirmed that his organisation's participation in the Revolution's celebrations is "a concrete expression of our Uuconditional support of the just struggle waged by the Palestinian people under the leadership of their sole legitimate representative, the PLO."
From Norway came a delegation of the Christian Students' Movement. They were received by Chairman Arafat and had talks with the director of the PLO Foreign Information Department Mahmoud Labadi, as well as with representatives of the Lebanese National Movement. In southern Lebanon, they visited the refugee camp of Rashidiyeh. Another group, comprising both Norwegian and some Swedish students, came from the Norwegian Travelling School, and they stayed several days in the refugee camp of Chatila near Beirut.
All the delegations and other guests visiting the PLO on the occasion of the January 1 celebrations were impressed by the achievements, the struggle and the spirit of the Palestinian people as they were shocked when they saw with their own eyes the destruction caused by direct and indirect Israeli aggression in Lebanon, with the help of American weapons.
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Originally published by The Palestine Liberation Organisation Unified Information as a bi-monthly information bulletin with copy permission granted via the notice "Partial or total reproduction is freely permitted by 'Palestine Bulletin'"
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