NEW YORK (Jan. 19)
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations issued a statement Thursday urging the State Department to continue to deny a U.S. visa to Yasir Arafat.
Its statement came amid reports that the Palestine Liberation Organization chairman would request a visa to address the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s annual convention in Washington on April 13.
The White House said Tuesday that the United States has not received any request from Arafat. In November, Secretary of State George Shultz rejected Arafat’s visa request to address the United Nations.
Seymour Reich, chairman of the Conference of Presidents, said granting Arafat a visa would reward him for continuing to pursue a policy of terrorism.
“There now exists a U.S.-PLO dialogue in Tunis, in which American Ambassador (Robert) Pelletreau is our country’s representative,” said Reich. “The PLO has done nothing to warrant any further concession by the United States.”
Among those agreeing to the statement was Menachem Rosensaft, president of the Labor Zionist Alliance and one of five American Jews who met with Arafat in Stockholm in December.
Rosensaft said in a telephone interview “there is absolutely no reason to justify broadening the PLO dialogue beyond that at Tunis.”
In a related development, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith on Thursday launched the first issue of its “PLO Watch” newsletter to monitor PLO actions and statements.
Another Jewish organization, meanwhile, reiterated its strong criticism of the U.S. decision to talk with the PLO.
The National Executive Committee of the Zionist Organization of America, meeting this week in Miami, said the U.S. decision is “a miscalculation” and should be reversed.