Behind the Headlines Double Tracking on the PLO

The Carter Administration is proceeding on a double track in its relationship to the United Nations program that attempts to glorify the Palestine Liberation Organization and vindicate its purposes.

While the Administration will not take part in the program arranged by the “Special Unit on the Palestine People” set up by the UN General Assembly, neither will it withhold U.S. payment of more than a third of the program’s cost although Congress has advised President Carter not to pay it.

Questions posed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at the White House and the State Department have drawn responses that indicate some highly placed Administration officials continue keen on hinting to the PLO chiefs that the American door is not locked to them and, despite the public statements in recent weeks by the President himself and the State Department, the way will be found to include the terrorists in the Mideast political process based on the Camp David accords.

In a statement that contradicts its own prior official positions, the State Department declared on Oct. 12 that “we have a legal obligation to pay our assessed contribution” to the program. The UN, it said, is “prohibited from accepting earmarked funds because of the financial chaos this would cause” and, besides, the U.S. has “long opposed the Soviets for wanting” to restrict use of funds.

U.S. HAS TAKEN OPPOSITE POSITION

Actually, the U.S. has on at least two major occasions in recent years taken the opposite position. It left the International Labor Organization which it had helped to create and reduced its payments to UNESCO which it had staunchly supported because both of those bodies had so grossly violated their charters by politicizing issues outside their jurisdiction. The Soviets, far from merely “wanting” to restrict use of their money, as the Department had put it, have absolutely refused to pay any part of the cost of peace-keeping forces in Africa and the Middle East or even for support of Palestinian refugees.

The State Department, following its statement, quietly made known that Andrew Young, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, has informed Secretary General Kurt Waldheim that the U.S. will not take part in the program for the Palestinians. Neither the White House nor the State Department has taken a strong public stand against the program which is deliberately scheduled to reach its zenith Nov. 29, the 31st anniversary of the UN vote to partition Palestine.

“The International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People,” as the General Assembly has described it, will be featured by the premier of a film, “Palestinians do Have Rights,” which is understood to show PLO chief Yasir Arafat vowing “moderate objectives” despite his continued attacks on Israel and his threats against Carter and the United States as a whole. His latest remark is to vow he will fight the Camp David accords “with all our potentials.”

The Senate, on June 28, without a single objection, adopted an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act to reduce the U.S. contribution to the UN by the U.S. proportionate share of the budget of the “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.”

Since the U.S. pays more than a third of the UN expenditures, of the $500,000 budget allocated to the committee to publicize the Palestinians in a favorable light, the American taxpayers contribute $190,000.

In the Senate-House conference on the legislation, the Senate amendment was altered at the behest of Administration personnel to allow the President to decide whether to reduce the U.S. contribution. A somewhat similar action was taken later in the case of the $90 million requested by the Administration for Syria. The House refused to make the appropriation because of the Syrian attacks on Lebanese Christians but the Administration won the allocation on the basis that the President would give Syria the money if he found that act would be favorable to U.S. interests.

SENATORS REMIND CARTER

When the Administration took no action on the Palestinian program payments or condemned it in strong and globally disseminated terms, a bipartisan bloc of 28 Senators reminded Carter of the Congressional desire.

On Oct. 13, they wrote him that “in recent days, it has become even more apparent that the Senate’s view” of the UN program “was sound. The Palestinian committee has used the funds available to it to carry on a sophisticated propaganda campaign–including, now, the production of a film–to continue the campaign against Israel.”

Although the Senators, representing 24 states, expressed “our strong expectation that you will exercise the discretion you have in this matter, and withhold from the American contribution to the UN that $190,000,” the President has not taken that action. In fact, the White House on Oct. 18 transferred the Senators’ letter to the State Department and instructed it to reply to the Senators.

The State Department itself on June 29, after the Jerusalem bombing, declared that “we view the PLO as an organization, elements and members of which advocate and carry out acts of terrorism.” Carter, at the Aliquippa, Pa. town meeting in September, equated the PLO with Nazis, Communists and the Ku Klux Klan. White House officials sought to minimize the meaning of the President’s statement, advising that a reading of the transcript would show his statement was less harsh than the media had reported.

In his latest comment on the matter, Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D.NY), who spearheaded the Senate’s action, reiterated the urging for Carter to take the practical step advocated by the Senators. By not reducing the U.S. contribution, Moynihan observed, the U.S. is in effect helping “a PLO organization whose principal purpose is the dissemination of vicious anti-democratic, anti-Israel, anti-American propaganda.”

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