Percy Rapped by Other Senators for His Views on a Palestinian State

Sen.Charles Percy (R. III.), who said he favors a Palestinian state headed by Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat, was sharply reminded by Senatorial colleagues that such on entity is specifically opposed in both the Republican and Democratic party platforms and is contrary to U.S. foreign policy.

Percy, who will become chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the next Congress, was taken to task yesterday by Sen. Bob Packwood (R. Ore.) and by three Democrats, Sens Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio, Carl Levin of Michigan and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Their comments were elicited by cabled reports from U.S. Ambassador Thomas Watson in Moscow that Percy had told Soviet leaders there last month that he favored a Palestinian state federated with Jordan but headed by Arafat who wants to be “a chief of state before he dies.” The classified cables were leaked to the media over the weekend.

Packwood, who like his three Democratic colleagues, is a strong supporter of Israel, warned that “Any plan for a Palestinian state on the West Bank is presumptuous, arrogant and wrong. It’s not the road to peace, it’s the way to war.”

AT VARIANCE WITH U.S. POLICY

Metzenbaum, in a speech on the Senate floor, declared, “I do not believe that the Soviet Union, the PLO or anyone else can reasonably take the Senator’s remarks as anything more than they were intended to be — an expression of a personal position that is at variance with our long established foreign policy. Anyone who doubts this nation’s position need only read the platforms of our two major political parties.”

Metzenbaum quoted at some length from the 980 Republican platform, noting that it stated with respect to an ultimate peace settlement (in the Middle East) Republicans reject any call for involvement of the PLO as not in keeping with the long term interests of either Israel or the Palestinian Arabs” and “We believe the establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank would be destabilizing and harmful to the peace process.

STATEMENT BY KENNEDY

Kennedy, in a statement issued by his office, said: “The recent conflict between Iraq and Iran and the increased tension between Syria and Jordan should remind us that the Palestinian problem is not the central cause of turmoil and instability in the Middle East today.

“Moreover, the core and crux of the Arab Israeli problem lies with the failure of the Arab nations, except for Egypt, to recognize both Israel’s existence and its need for secure, defensible and recognized borders. The 1980 Democratic and Republican platforms both oppose the creation of a Palestinian state. The U.S. must make absolutely clear that we will never pursue a foreign policy which undermines the security of Israel.”

HITS MOVE TO COMPROMISE U.S. POSITION

Levin, who also spoke on the Senate floor, said: “To discuss the development of such a (Palestinian) state before the PLO has taken even the most minimal step toward peace is to encourage the continuation of present PLO policy whereby it receives international recognition in exchange for nothing. Indeed its terrorist acts are continuing and the situation is polarized even further.

“It must remain the policy of the U.S., as it is of Israel, to be willing to sit down and talk with anyone who is willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security. To reverse that policy or to stray from it is to compromise U.S. opposition to terrorism and our commitment to peace.”

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