Undeterred by the Middle East violence of the past several weeks or protests from local Jewish groups and Israel, Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe is scheduled to meet here Monday with two senior officials of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Elias Khoury, the Anglican archbishop of Jerusalem, and former West Bank mayor Mohammed Milhem arrived here yesterday amid heavy security along with Jordan's foreign minister and deputy prime minister, who also will participate in the meeting. Both Khoury and Milhem are recent appointees to the PLO's executive committee.
Little is expected to result from the session, which was arranged during Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's visit last month with King Hussein in Jordan. But the fact that it is taking place is viewed here as more important than its substance. Thatcher has said she hopes it will "further the peace process, which really has taken far too long in my view."
The Board of Deputies of British Jews, supported by some members of Thatcher's Conservative Party, has organized a protest Monday evening, where speakers will include Israeli Communications Minister Amnon Rubenstein and the Israeli ambassador here. Press reports today were particularly critical of the timing of the visit, immediately following last week's hijacking of an Italian cruise ship by Palestinian guerrillas.
Thatcher has denied any change in British policy, which maintains that the PLO overall must reject violence and recognize Israel's right to exist. But she has described her government as a possible catalyst in breaking the apparent logjam holding up progress on Hussein's initiative proposing direct talks among the United States, Israel and a joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation.
The situation in Washington, Thatcher said in a recent interview here, "seems to have run into a little difficulty, . . . so we decided that this was something that we could do to help it."