WASHINGTON (May. 15)
The State Department declared today that if the Palestine Liberation Organization meets the "well known" conditions of the United States, the U.S. is ready to "open up a substantive political dialogue" with the PLO.
But State Department deputy spokesman Edward Djerejian made it clear that this would require more than statements to the press by PLO chief Yasir Arafat. "If Arafat and the PLO explicitly accept United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and recognize Israel’s right to exist, the U.S. will then be prepared to enter into a substantive political dialogue with the PLO," he said. He added, "That has been and remains our position."
Djerejian indicated that the acceptance would have to come not only from Arafat but from the PLO’s executive committee which earlier this year again rejected Resolution 242.
The State Department had no comment on an interview Arafat gave The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times in Amman yesterday in which he said he would accept Resolution 242 if the U.S. endorses the right of the Palestinian people to "self determination." Djerejian said that he had not seen anything by Arafat accepting the resolution.
PALESTINIANS ARE THE KEY
At the same time, Djerejian stressed that the U.S. has long clearly stated its position on Palestinian self-determination. "We have always believed the Palestinians are key to any resolution of the Arab-Israel conflict," he said.
Djerejian then listed specific ways in which the U.S. has emphasized this position. "It is U.S. policy that any agreement must address the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. There should be Palestinian participation at every stage of the negotiating process. Any agreement on the final status of the West Bank and Gaza should have the prior consent of the inhabitants of the territories."
Finally, Djerejian stressed that "It is the firm view of the U.S. that the best chance for a durable, just and lasting peace is offered by the self-government by the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza in association with Jordan." The PLO has always described self-determination as a Palestinian state which both Israel and the U.S. oppose.
Secretary of State George Shultz, in his recent visit to Israel, Egypt and Jordan, sought to find a means of selecting Palestinian representatives for a Jordanian-Palestinian delegation for talks with the U.S. that would lead to direct negotiations between the joint delegation and Israel.
Shultz was quoted as saying that he found a "genuine sense of movement" toward negotiations during his talks in the Middle East. However, Jordan still maintains that the Palestinian members of the delegation must be members of the PLO while Israel has made it clear it would never negotiate with members of a terrorist organization.
Whether there is any movement may depend on what happens when King Hussein of Jordan meets here with President Reagan later this month.