WASHINGTON (Jun. 6)
A resolution was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday calling on the Bush administration to end its dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization unless it condemns an attempted raid on Tel Aviv last week.
The resolution, introduced by Sens. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), proclaims that “the commitments of the PLO to recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce terrorism (have) been violated” because of the May 30 incident.
“The United States is obligated . . . to cease all contact with the PLO until the PLO’s adherence to said commitments is fully and fundamentally demonstrated by concrete actions,” the resolution states.
Such acts include PLO condemnation of the attempted raid by the Palestine Liberation Front, and expulsion of the PLF leader, Mohammed (Abul) Abbas, from the PLO executive committee.
Rep. Lawrence Smith (D-Fla.) is planning to introduce a similar version Thursday in the House, said Paul Bledsoe, Smith’s press secretary.
The administration is not expected to announce any decision on whether to end the dialogue with the PLO until after Secretary of State James Baker returns from Europe on Saturday.
U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia Robert Pelletreau met with the PLO on Tuesday for the third time since the incident. The United States has formally asked the PLO to explain its role in the incident.
A State Department source said the PLO has never expelled anyone from its executive committee because of pressure from outside the umbrella organization.
The source dismissed Abbas’ claim that the raid’s purpose was to hit Israeli military targets in Tel Aviv.
Under a 21-year-old State Department definition of terrorism, reiterated last month by John Kelly, assistant secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, an attack cannot only be deemed as terrorist if its intended targets are civilians.
The department source called the May 30 raid a “terrorist act because of where (PLF guerrillas) came ashore on the beach.”
“It would have been very difficult for civilians not to have been involved even if that was not their target,” because the intended area for the invasion is “next to a row of hotels,” the source said. “It’s pretty hard to say that this is purely a military thing,” he added.
At a news conference in front of the Capitol, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said the raid “proves” that the PLO’s “intentions are not for serious, peaceful negotiations.”
CALLS FOR ABBAS’ EXPULSION
On June 1, Lautenberg and 43 colleagues wrote Baker to urge him to call on PLO chief Yasir Arafat “to unequivocally denounce the attempted terrorist attack” and to expel Abbas from the executive committee.
The letter referred to Kelly’s statement at the hearing that the PLF, as a member of the PLO’s executive committee, is bound by Arafat’s December 1987 pledge to cease terrorism.
Also attending the news conference was Lisa Klinghoffer, whose father was thrown off a ship and murdered in 1985 by Abbas’ group.
She met with various lawmakers as part of the Leon Klinghoffer Foundation of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.
Earlier in the day, meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole (R-Kan.) said on the Senate floor that “some who are associated with (the PLO leadership) continue not only to condone, but to conduct, terrorism.
“The United States should not, and will not, negotiate with terrorists,” said Dole. “On that basic point, all Americans agree.”
He said that two months after having visited five Mideastern countries, including Israel, “some of the hopes with which I returned from that visit have been undermined by subsequent events.”
He cited an “upsurge in violence over the past two weeks” in Israel and the administered territories, and called “a decisive move toward peace” to prevent a “gradual, perhaps not even so gradual, drift toward renewed violence.”