Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasir Arafat has taken the unprecedented step of writing a letter to the head of a Zionist organization, contending that the PLO “has made a historical compromise” for peace and that “Israel has to make a similar historical compromise to achieve peace with the Palestinian people.”
In his message to Menachem Rosensaft, president of the Labor Zionist Alliance, Arafat claimed that the Palestinians have contributed to progress on the peace front but that “the leaders of Israel refused until now all initiatives, including Baker’s five points for finding a peaceful settlement.”
Rosensaft said it is no coincidence that the letter was sent just days after the United States government severed its dialogue with the PLO.
But despite the timing, Arafat made no mention in the letter of his refusal to condemn the Palestinian terrorist beach attack on Shavuot, May 30. It was this refusal that caused the United States to cut off the dialogue.
The closest Arafat came to mentioning terrorism was to say that he was “confident that the chain of violence would definitely end if each of us makes the necessary steps to realize a just and permanent peace.”
Rosensaft was among five American Jews who met with Arafat in Stockholm on Dec. 7, 1988, a week before Arafat said he was renouncing terrorism and recognizing the State of Israel.
A year later, in December 1989, Rosensaft published an open letter to Arafat in Newsweek expressing his disappointment that the PLO chief did not appear to be living up to his commitments.
Rosensaft supported the U.S. decision to cut off the dialogue with the PLO, in the wake of Arafat’s connection to terrorist activities.
Rosensaft said that the PLO has to “be held to the very strict standards that were set and to which they agreed to bind themselves in December of ’88. Those standards were a renunciation of terrorism and recognition of the State of Israel.”
Rosensaft pointed out that even the “State of Palestine/Palestine Liberation Organization” stationery on which Arafat’s letter was written appeared to violate those conditions.
The stationery was marked with the PLO crest a map of the State of Israel together with the administered territories.
“If that emblem is what Arafat views as the State of Palestine, then it contradicts his recognition of the state of Israel,” Rosensaft said. “That is a contradiction which the PLO will have to come to terms with before they can be viewed as a participant in any Middle East peace process.”