NEW YORK (Apr. 5)
Has the Palestine Liberation Organization lived up to its 1988 promise to renounce terrorism?
In its first status report on the PLO earlier this month, the U.S. State Department answered that question in the affirmative, concluding that the PLO has “adhered to its commitment” to give up terrorism.
But the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, in its own just-released report, claims that the State Department report was “selective and distorted” in its analysis of whether the PLO has complied with terms for continued dialogue with the United States.
It was PLO leader Yasir Arafat’s pledge in Geneva to renounce terrorism, along with his recognition of Israel and acceptance of two U.N. Security Council Resolutions, which resulted in the initiation of the PLO-U.S. dialogue in December 1988.
A key difference in the view of the ADL and the State Department stems from the fact that the PLO, as an umbrella organization, represents all of its constituent groups. These groups include factions such as the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
PLO HELD ACCOUNTABLE
The ADL report, titled “PLO Terrorism 1989-90: Violating the Terms of the U.S.-PLO Dialogue,” claims that at the start of the U.S.-PLO dialogue, the U.S. government strongly stated that Arafat and the PLO would be held accountable for the behavior of all these factions.
Even after Arafat’s declaration in Geneva, the DFLP and the PFLP, which reject many of Arafat’s political stands, continued terrorist activity, and have acknowledged responsibility for attempts to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks against civilian targets.
But when the State Department came out with its report, it did not hold the PLO directly responsible for these acts, noting that there was “no evidence that these actions were authorized or approved by the PLO Executive Committee or Arafat personally.”
The ADL points to about 12 attacks involving hand grenades and Molotov cocktails, which Israeli authorities traced to Arafat’s Fatah branch of the PLO. These attacks went unmentioned in the State Department report.
“There have been some allegations that the PLO has been responsible for certain acts, but we have not been able to corroborate this,” a State Department official said.
The official also said that “an act of terrorism on the part of the PLO and by the leadership of the PLO would result in a re-evaluation of the dialogue and possible termination of the dialogue.”
This was stronger language than that used in the report or by Secretary of State James Baker in a letter to Rep. Mel Levine (D-Calif.) In the letter, and in the report itself, there was no mention of any danger of a termination of the dialogue if the PLO is linked to terrorism.
Secretary of State James Baker affirmed only in the letter to Levine that any involvement by PLO groups in terrorist activity would “raise questions” about the 1988 PLO commitment.