Haig on Israel and the PLO

– Gen. Alexander Haig, approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today by a vote of 15-2 as President-elect Reagan’s choice to be Secretary of State, said he has always viewed Israel as a strategic asset of the United States. He also clarified his views on the Palestine Liberation Organization and expressed support for American assistance to Egypt.

In the course of questioning on the final day of his confirmation hearings, Haig was asked by Sen. Alan Cranston (D. Calif.) how he would “characterize our relationship with Israel in a nutshell. You view it as a strategic asset?” Haig replied, “I always have and I have always described it as that. And I combine that with our long standing obligation of the post-World War II creation of the State” of Israel.

Regarding the PLO, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D. Conn.) pointed out that in an interview in the New York Times Dec. 18, Haig was quoted as saying in part, “One must be careful in the use of the term PLO. The PLO is an organization made up of elements with various interests. Some are just and reasonable while others are obviously dominated by the East, financially as well as ideologically …”

Haig told Dodd he did not recall an interview in the Times. He added, “But I have said in the past that when people refer to the Palestinians at large they are talking about a number of factions and geographic sources and attitudes ranging from the most benign to some who are clearly under the wing and sponsorship of the Soviet Union. And I think, that is, I hope that is how the confusion got generated — the Palestinians per se and the other, the PLO and the peace process.” Full Senate confirmation is a virtual certainty next Tuesday, Inauguration Day.

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