NEW YORK (Jun. 16)
American Jewish leaders have denounced the declaration by the leaders of the nine European Economic Community (EEC) countries calling for the Palestine Liberation Organization to be “associated with” Middle East peace talks as a step undermining the peace effort and encouraging terrorism.
Rabbi Joseph Sternstein, president of the American Zionist Federation, said that “such a declaration which gives support and emotional sustenance to a band of terrorists can only be dangerously counterproductive, giving the murderers of innocent women and children a signal that their bloody deeds will win them friends.” He said the declaration, which was made at the EEC prime ministers’ meeting in Venice last week, not only shows “utter insensitivity to the delicacy of the autonomy negotiations which will soon be resumed but makes one wonder whether West European leaders are more concerned with the welfare of the Palestinian people or the price of oil.”
Maxwell Greenberg, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, said the European statement is “a singular disservice to the hopes for peace. The statement gives comfort to those who reject peace, undermines the Camp David process that has brought the parties so far, and discourages would-be peacemakers from stepping forward. “Henry Siegman, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, declared that “The West European declaration calling for PLO participation in the Middle East peace process is self-serving and cynical in its eagerness to appease oil-rich Arabs and its mercenary sensibility.” He said the statement makes a Mideast peace “for less likely. What the negotiations require is the presence of West Bank Palestinians and of Jordan. If they have stayed away, it is primarily because of their fear of the PLO’s propensity for settling political differences by assassination. The Western European actions can only serve to keep them further away from the negotiations. Realistic solutions that are in keeping with the dignity and aspirations of Palestinian Arabs and security needs of Israel have been further undermined.
“It is sad that this shameful accommodation to PLO terrorism by the Europeans will be paid for in the currency of Jewish life, Israeli security, and compromised prospects for a genuine Middle Eastern peace.”
Dr. Israel Kugler, president of the Workmen’s Circle, said it was outrageous that countries which value democracy and freedom would welcome the PLO to become a party to the autonomy negotiations. “Nowhere in their statement do they (EEC ministers) insist that the Palestinians accord full recognition to Israel as a state with a right to exist within secure and defensible borders,” he said. “The Workmen’s Circle considers this craven action by these Western European powers to be an object surrender to OPEC oil politics.”