JERUSALEM (Dec. 28)
There will be no further contacts between the United States and the Palestine Liberation Organization before the new administration takes office in Washington on Jan. 20, Secretary of State George Shultz has told American Jewish leaders.
That was disclosed here Wednesday by Morris Abram, outgoing chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Seymour Reich, who will succeed him on Jan. 1.
Both leaders defended the non-judgmental position taken by the conference toward Shultz’s Dec. 14 decision to open a dialogue with the PLO, which had been banned by U.S. policy since 1975.
The first U.S.-PLO contact took place in Tunisia on Dec. 16. The U.S. ambassador to Tunisia, Robert Pelletreau Jr., met with four PLO officials. Pelletreau is the only American official authorized by the State Department to talk to the PLO.
Abram and Reich said at a news conference here they were confident that there would be no fundamental change in American foreign policy.
Abram stressed that there was no need to react dramatically “when a friend takes a decision with which you disagree.”
He said all the conference could hope to do was to set the conditions it felt PLO leader Yasir Arafat should meet to prove he is serious about peace.
Abram insisted the PLO should put an end to the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and delete the clause calling for Israel’s destruction from the Palestine National Covenant, which is the PLO’s charter.
He said the Conference of Presidents asked Shultz at a meeting last week to put into writing that America’s support of Israel remains firm. Abram also said he was confident President-elect George Bush would prove to be a good friend of Israel.
Reich, 55, who is international president of B’nai B’rith, said he looks forward to dealing with the new government in Israel. He said he hopes it will live up to its promise to “speak with one voice.”