HAIFA (Apr. 6)
Two American experts on the Middle East, participating in the “international Conference on the Palestinians and the Mideast Conflict” at Haifa University, said today that the U.S. was actively working to bring about PLO participation in Middle East peace talks. Prof. Amos Perlmutter, of the American University in Washington, said in remarks to reporters outside the conference hall that he had been given such information two weeks ago in Washington by way of a hint that he was to pass on to Israel government circles.
Prof. Linda Miller, of Wellesley College, told a session of the conference that she “sensed” vigorous new efforts by the U.S. to engage the PLO in a dialogue aimed at its acceptance of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 as a prelude to talks with Israel.
Perlmutter identified the source of his information as former Ambassador G. Dean Brown, director of the Middle East Institute in Washington, who President Ford sent to Lebanon last week as a special envoy on a fact-finding mission. The State Department has not ruled out contacts with the PLO though it said they were not included in Brown’s instructions from the President.
Perlmutter, like Miller, indicated that American efforts were aimed at getting the PLO to accept the key UN resolutions so that it would qualify as a participant in peace talks with Israel. He said the U.S. hoped PLO chieftain Yasir Arafat would make some sort of declaration which could be construed as acceptance of the resolutions. He also said that Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Simcha Dinitz, was made aware of this direction of American policy at least three months ago.
CLAIMS LOW-LEVEL CONTACTS MAINTAINED
Miller said that she believed U.S.-PLO contacts had been maintained for some time at a relatively low level. She cited a letter to her from a State Department planner whose name she did not reveal, asserting that Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger had read in advance the controversial “Saunders Paper.”
That paper was the testimony by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East Harold Saunders before a Congressional committee in which Saunders described the Palestinian problem as the heart of the Middle East conflict. It was regarded in Israel as heralding a change of U.S. policy against any dealings with the PLO.