Senators Urging U.S. to Thwart U.N. Recognition of PLO State

Secretary of State James Baker was urged by two senators Wednesday to thwart any attempt by the United Nations or its agencies to recognize the Palestinian state declared by the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“Such a move by the United Nations or its specialized agencies would make a mockery of all the U.N. represents,” Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Robert Kasten (R-Wis.) declared in a letter to Baker.

The two senators, who respectively are the chairman and ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees U.S. funding to the United Nations, were referring to possible recognition of the Palestinian state by the International Telecommunications Union, an aide to Kasten said.

In addition, the World Health Organization will be asked to grant the PLO full voting privileges as a member state at its annual meeting May 8 in Geneva, diplomatic sources in Geneva said recently.

Recognition of the state would add a new obstacle to the peace process because it “prejudges the outcome of the negotiating process,” the senators said.

They said it would also weaken U.S. support for the United Nations, forcing Congress to “seriously consider a range of punitive actions, including withholding U.S. financial participation from those agencies.”

The PLO’s declaration of statehood “contravenes all international standards related to sovereignty,” they said.

“The PLO does not control territory, does not control any population and is not a government, all of which are internationally accepted attributes of a state and of statehood.”

The letter is the latest of a flurry of congressional efforts to place conditions on the U.S. dialogue with the PLO.

HELMS BILL GAINING SUPPORT

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) introduced a sense-of-the-Senate resolution last Friday that would urge the Bush administration to ask the PLO to explain nine attempts by PLO constituent groups to infiltrate Israel since the start of the U.S.-PLO dialogue last December.

The administration would be requested to seek such information at its first contact with the PLO after approval of the bill. The resolution had 26 co-sponsors as of Wednesday, a Helms aide said.

One incident was staged March 15 near the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The Islamic Jihad group is believed responsible.

The other eight incidents occurred near the Israeli-Lebanese border. Three were conducted by the Palestine Liberation Front, two by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and one each by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Popular Struggle Front.

The PFLP and the Palestine Liberation Front joined in an infiltration attempt Feb. 5.

The State Department’s 1988 “Patterns of Global Terrorism” report, released Tuesday, states that those two groups are among the PLO constituents bound by Yasir Arafat’s renunciation of terrorism last December.

The Democratic Front is also a PLO member group, the report says, although it “differs with key elements of Arafat’s policies.”

Although neither the Popular Struggle Front nor Islamic Jihad is a PLO faction, the Helms aide said news reports indicated the PLO may have been consulted about attacks perpetrated by those groups.

TERRORISM REPORT RELEASED

Another bill, introduced Tuesday by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Connie Mack (R-Fla.), would require the Bush administration to report to Congress every 120 days on PLO compliance with conditions for the U.S.-PLO dialogue. That bill had 16 co-sponsors as of Wednesday afternoon, a Mack aide said.

The three conditions for the dialogue are PLO recognition of Israel’s right to exist, renunciation of terrorism and acceptance of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

An aide to Rep. Mel Levine (D-Calif.) said the House Wednesday approved two of his amendments to the 1990 State Department Authorization Bill. They would require the administration to report to Congress on involvement in the peace process by both the PLO as well as various Arab states.

The terrorism report found that 250 terrorist incidents occurred in 1988 in Israel and the territories.

A source in the State Department’s counterterrorism office said the overwhelming number occurred in the territories and that some of those were committed by Jews.

The incidents in the territories included “life-threatening violence,” such as throwing of Molotov cocktails at unarmed civilians, the source said.

But the State Department did not count throwing of Molotov cocktails at soldiers or rock-throwing at either soldiers or civilians.

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