Jerusalem (Jan. 27)
–Israel offered a mild official reaction to the Reagan Administration’s announcement yesterday that it is reviewing U.S. policy in the Middle East, its characterization of new Israeli settlements on the West Bank as “unhelpful” and the hint of ambiguity in its appraisal of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said today that it was only natural that the new Administration would take stock of its commitments around the world. He said the remarks by State Department spokesman William Dyess on the settlements, the PLO and other matters seemed to be a continuation of U.S. Mideast policy. But the spokesman differed with the view of the PLO as an “umbrella organization” which implies it contains “moderate” and terrorist elements.
That characterization was attributed by Dyess to Secretary of State Alexander Haig during his confirmation hearings by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Foreign Ministry spokesman stressed that in Israel’s view, the PLO is an extremist terrorist organization and the existence of any moderate elements within it remains to be proven. Even if such elements exist, the question is to what extent do they influence PLO policy, the spokesman said.
He pointed out that the PLO is committed by its Covenant and its very nature to the annihilation of Israel, by any method including terrorism Israel believes that the U. S. stands by President Reagan’s description of the PLO as a terrorist organization, the spokesman said.
Noting the State Department’s references to the Islamic summit meeting in Saudi Arabia, the spokesman said that conference was committed to war against Israel and only a few days ago, Saudi Arabia called for “jihad” (holy war) to recover Jerusalem. The spokesman said Israel was deeply disappointed by the presence and participation of UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim at the Islamic summit.
Meanwhile, reports from Taif, Saudi Arabia where Islamic nations are holding their summit meeting, said the countries today endorsed a plan to impose a total economic boycott on Israel because of its proclamation that united Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. The plan also reportedly threatens a boycott of any nation that accepts Israel’s stance on Jerusalem and promises increased military aid to Palestinian terrorists.