Percy Calls Israel’s West Bank Settlements ‘provocative’

Sen. Charles Percy (D. III.), calling Israel’s “extensive” West Bank settlements “provocative,” told a group of Jewish leaders yesterday that the settlements discouraged Jordan from entering into peace negotiations with the Jewish State. He said he had been assured that King Hussein wants to enter into negotiations with Israel.

Percy, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, spoke to a closed meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The meeting with the some 100 Jewish leaders was requested by Percy, who is seeking re-election.

The Senator said he opposed the establishment of on independent Palestinian state but asserted that the Palestinian people needed a national homeland, which he said should be in some form of confederation with Jordan. He said he regarded Yasir Arafat, the Palestine Liberation Organization chief, as a “relative moderate compared with George Habash,” the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

DEFENDS HIS SUPPORT FOR AWACS SALE

The senior Senator from Illinois also defended his support for the 1981 sale of AWACS reconnaissance planes and other advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia, which he termed as a “moderate” Arab state “compared with Libya and Syria.” He said the military balance had not shifted against Israel as a result of the U.S. arms sale to the Saudis.

On other topics, Percy was reported to have appeared uncomfortable with a question about why the U.S. did not move its Embassy to Jerusalem. He said “the time was not ripe” for such a move and that he would not seek to push the Reagan Administration into such a step at this time.

Percy said he strongly opposed any demands by Syria or its surrogates in Lebanon that the government of President Amin Gemayel abrogate its May 17 security and withdrawal accord with Israel. The Administration, he said, was strongly opposed to any such action. He said that he had personally urged President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to return his Ambassador to Israel and to resume progress toward normalization between the two countries.

In a statement distributed at the meeting, Percy detailed various actions he has taken in opposing the Arab boycott and supporting the right of Soviet Jews to live as Jews and to emigrate.

Former Republican Senator Jacob Javits of New York, who was a surprise guest at the meeting, distributed a statement to the Jewish leaders supporting Percy’s re-election bid.

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