In Terrorism Report, U.S. Lauds Plo, but Says Arafat Can’t Control Members

The Clinton administration thinks the Palestine Liberation Organization is in compliance with pledges to renounce terrorism, but it also believes PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat lacks the ability to control various PLO-related factions.

In a report submitted last week to Congress, the state Department said, “We believe that the PLO is complying with the commitments embodied in the Declaration of Principles,” which was signed in September, and in letters to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the late Norwegian Foreign Minister Johan Holst.

The report added, however, that “rejectionist elements who claim to be under the PLO umbrella continue to commit terrorist acts.”

“At the same time, both the U.S. and the Israeli government recognize that Arafat has no real ability to exert operational control over these groups,” the report said.

The Israeli government is expected to study the report and comment on it in the future.

The 11-page report, dated Jan. 10, was prepared in response to a 1990 law requiring the administration to report to Congress every 120 days on PLO activities, if the administration is involved in a dialogue with the PLO.

A State Department spokesman said he thought the report was the first since the United States resumed its dialogue with the PLO shortly before the signing of the Israeli-PLO accord on Sept. 13.

Many in Congress remain wary of the PLO, which has long been connected to various terrorist groups.

On Sept. 9, Arafat said in a letter to Rabin that the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist and that he renounced terrorism and violence.

The Jan. 10 report includes a list of terrorist incidents conducted by Palestinian groups – most of whom reject the Israeli-PLO agreement – since the agreement was signed in September.

The PLO consists of various groups, with varying relationships to Arafat and varying views of the Israeli-PLO agreement.

The report concluded that two terrorist incidents were tied to Arafat’s Al Fatah wing of the PLO.

The two incidents were the Oct. 29 murder of Chaim Mizrahi, an Israeli who was killed while stopping to buy eggs at a West Bank farm; and a Dec. 13 claim of responsibility by the Fatah Hawks group for the murder of two Israelis in Ramallah.

The report pointed out that Arafat “denounced” the Mizrahi murder and that an Israeli investigation revealed that the five Fatah members responsible for the murder acted on their own.

Also included in the report is a list of examples of PLO leaders denouncing violence.

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