WASHINGTON (Jul. 26)
The Reagan Administration rejected today a document reportedly signed by Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat as not being the “clear and unequivocal” statement the U.S. is demanding before it will recognize or talk with the PLO.
The rejection come in the form of a State Department statement on a claim by Rep. Paul McCloskey (R. Calif.) that Arafat had signed a document giving his “acceptance of all United Nations resolutions which include the right of Israel to exist.” But McCloskey, who was accompanied by four other Congressmen on a visit to Arafat’s headquarters in west Beirut was immediately corrected by Arafat who said he had agreed to accept “all UN resolutions concerning the Palestinian question.”
McCloskey, who has long been a critic of Israel, said he hoped the Administration would now be willing to talk to the PLO. But, in rejecting this today, State Department spokesman Dean Fischer reiterated the U.S. position.
“The United States will not recognize or negotiate with the PLO until the PLO accepts UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and Israel’s right to exist,” Fischer said. “We have indicated that this must be done in a clear and unequivocal way. The statement by Mr. Arafat does not meet these conditions.” Fischer said the statement was worked on all morning by the State Department and had the approval of Secretary of State George Shultz who participated in its drafting from California.
The spokesman pointed out that when the conditions were set by then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1974, they were clear and must be met in a clear manner by the PLO. “It should not be buried in rhetoric in a way which could be denied later,” he added.
CONDITIONS FOR TALKING TO THE PLO
But he said, “If our conditions are met … we would be willing to talk to the PLO.” He would not say what form these conditions should take. “We will know it when we see it,” he added. At the same time, he left open the possibility that the PLO could accept Resolutions 242 and 338 in a statement that included other UN resolutions as long as it was clear that it accepted the two UN resolutions the U.S. had made as conditions.
McCloskey met Arafat yesterday accompanied by Rep. Nick Rahall (D. W. Va.), Mary Rose Oakar (D. Ohio); David Bonior (D. Mich.); and Mervyn Dymally (D. Calif.). A sixth Congressmen, Rep. Elliott Levitas (D. Ga.), who was part of the Congressional delegation that has been touring Lebanon, did not go to the PLO headquarters. He said the document signed by Arafat carefully avoided a commitment to Israel’s right to exist.
Fischer said today that the Congressional group had gone to see Arafat on its own and the meeting was not arranged by the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. He said earlier, Ambassador Robert Dillon had briefed the group on the situation in Lebanon and had warned them of the danger of going to west Beirut.
Moshe Arens, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, in a television appearance today called the McCloskey effort “artificial respiration” for the PLO. Appearing on CBS-TV’s “Morning” program, Arens said it was “a piece of deception and dissimulation, very characteristic of the PLO.”
Meanwhile it was learned here today that in a secret meeting of 23 Palestinian leaders held in London July 9-11, it was decided to concentrate on efforts to change the U.S. policy toward the Palestinians. The group, which included Dr. Walid Khalidi, Dr.Hisham Sharabai and Edward Said, all from the U.S., decided to hold a meeting in Europe next month in which some 300 wealthy Palestinians will be invited in order to raise $100 million dollars for the project.
The meeting was revealed in the London-based Arabic-language weekly Al-Majallah and reprinted by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, the U.S. government service that monitors foreign media.
According to AI-Majallah, some of the participants felt that the Palestinian military effort had “collapsed” and that efforts should be focused on securing the rights of the Palestinian people, concentrating on the U.S. since it “holds most of the cards.” The plan calls for creating a Palestinian lobby in the U.S. which would include contacting leading figures within or close to the Reagon Administration. The weekly listed Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and former Treasury Secretary John Connally.
SYRIA WARNED AGAINST NEW WEAPONS DEPLOYMENT
In other developments, Fischer warned the Syrians against moving new weapons into Lebanon. He said that the U.S. was looking at the reports that Syria had moved Soviet-made SAM-8 anti-aircraft missiles into the Bekaa valley, a more sophisticated missile than the SAM-6s the Syrians had there previously.
“Any action that endangers the cease-fire and opens the possibility of widening the conflict in Lebanon, must be avoided,” Fischer said. Israel destroyed three batteries at the SAM-8 missiles on Saturday. An Israeli jet was shot down by the Syrians but this was reportedly by a SAM-6.
HASSAN ALI, SHAMIR GOING TO WASHINGTON
Fischer announced that Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali, will come to Washington later this week to meet with Shultz. He said that Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir will come to Washington as soon as an agreeable mutual date can be worked out between him and Shultz.
Ali will bring a message from President Hosni Mubarak to President Reagan, Fischer said. He said the talks with Shultz will presumably concentrate on the discussions special Presidential envoy Philip Habib had in Cairo yesterday.
Fischer stressed that Habib, who was in London today, is concentrating on getting the “PLO fighters” out of west Beirut and into some Arab country or countries. He said that the Arab proposal to move the some 6,000 PLO terrorists now in west Beirut temporarily to northern Lebanon was not an idea that the U.S. bad ever acknowledged it had accepted.