WASHINGTON (Dec. 21)
Secretary of State George Shultz told American Jewish leaders Wednesday that the United States and the Palestine Liberation Organization are engaged in a “very low-level dialogue.”
Shultz was very firm in stressing that the United States still opposes a Palestinian state because “it would be unstable,” according to Morris Abram, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Shultz said that the United States is not pressing Israel to talk to the PLO, and indicated he does not consider the PLO a potential negotiating partner with Israel.
Shultz met for more than an hour with a delegation from the Conference of Presidents. It was his first meeting with the Jewish umbrella group since his announcement last week that the United States would open a “substantive dialogue” with the PLO.
He called that decision a “fait accompli,” and said nobody understood the legal basis for the old policy of not talking to the PLO.
But Shultz insisted it signified no change of U.S. policy toward Israel or the Middle East in general, Abram told reporters after the meeting.
He also believes there must be an interim period before a final settlement of the Middle East conflict, as provided by the 1978 Camp David accords.
As for the PLO as a negotiating partner, Shultz said he “certainly did not count them in,” Abram reported. He said that the secretary was adamant that terrorism must cease.
When Abram said the only “legitimate way” the PLO can renounce terrorism would be to amend its charter calling for the destruction of Israel, Shultz replied he would “like to see that happen.”