WASHINGTON (Nov. 16)
The State Department has reviewed the political statements issued at the end of the Palestine National Council’s three-day meeting in Algiers and has found them inadequate.
Department spokesman Charles Redman said Wednesday that they neither meet the requirements of the Middle East peace process nor the conditions set by the United States before Washington will have any dealings with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The conditions are recognition of Israel’s right to exist, acceptance of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and a renunciation of terrorism.
The Reagan administration had refused for the last two days any comment on the PNC’s political statements until it could study the text, although it noted that there were positive elements.
“After reviewing the outcome of the Palestine National Council, there are signs that there are Palestinians who are trying to move the PLO in a constructive way,” Redman said Wednesday. “That’s encouraging and should continue.”
But, he added, “based against the requirements of the negotiating process, more movement on key issues will be required.
Redman said that while “the reference to Resolutions 242 and 338 is an advance over previous efforts by the PNC . . . it is ambiguous both in its placement in the text and its meaning.”
He said recognition of Israel’s right to exist “must be clear and unambigous.”
Redman said the PNC statement rejecting terrorism “in accordance with United Nations resolutions” is a restatement of its previous positions, which allow the PLO to carry out acts against Israel which the United States and Israel consider terrorism.
“It is still performance that counts,” Redman said. He indicated that one sign that disturbs the United States was the presence at the PNC meeting of Abul Abbas, who has been convicted in absentia by Italy of the murder of Leon Klinghoffer during the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro.
Phyllis Oakley, a State Department spokeswoman, said Monday that it was “extraordinary that a convicted murderer” would continue to serve on the PLO’s executive committee.
While Washington finds the PNC statements inadequate, PLO leaders feel they have met U.S. requirements since they have agreed to negotiate with Israel within the context of an international conference.
“We are serious,” Bassam Abu Sharif, the PLO’s chief spokesman, said during an appearance on ABC-TV’s “Nightline” Tuesday.
“We really want peace in the Middle East and are ready to negotiate. We are ready to sit down right now with (Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak) Shamir and (Ariel) Sharon and the rest of them.”
Israeli leaders, who have also rejected the PNC statements, are still committed to negotiate with Palestinians, but have declared that the PLO will never be a negotiating partner.