Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Allen Justifies Israel’s Attacks on PLO Bases in Lebanon As Reaching the ‘source of Terrorism’

March 31, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

President Reagan’s National Security Advisor, Richard Allen, has justified Israel’s attacks on Palestine Liberation Organization bases in Lebanon as reaching “to the source of terrorism” and said “there is no question” that the PLO is a “terrorist organization.”

Allen made his remarks on the ABC-TV program “20/20” to be broadcast next Thursday but a transcript became available earlier. News reports of his remarks said they would “complicate” Secretary of State Alexander Haig’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt but would be welcome in Israel where he will also visit early next month. Egypt, however, is also not friendly toward the PLO.

Reagan and Haig, in the past, have referred to the PLO as terrorist and the State Department, under Haig’s leadership, has not implied, as the Carter Administration often had, that Israel is illegally using U.S. -supplied weapons in Lebanon. Haig, who appeared on the NBC-TV “Meet the Press” program yesterday was not asked for comment on Allen’s remarks dealing with the PLO.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Charles Percy (R. III.), who has leaned toward U.S. dealings with the PLO and the European Economic Community’s (EEC) initiative that would “associate” the PLO in the Middle East peace process, appeared to agree with Allen’s remarks both about the PLO and Israel’s strikes into Lebanon when he was interviewed yesterday on the CBS-TV “Face the Nation” program.


Allen was asked if it was fair to call the PLO a terrorist organization. He replied, “I think yes, on balance. There is no question we must identify the PLO as a terrorist organization until it provides convincing evidence to the contrary.”

Asked if Israeli raids into Lebanon were preemptive strikes, terrorist acts, of self-defense, Allen said: “I don’t want to get into a specific policy discussion here and what I’m saying does not represent #he–I emphasize the–official policy of the United States government, but to the extent that one reaches to the source of terrorism then, of course, there is ample justification for taking action. I’m just saying that reaching to the source is generally recognized as hot pursuit of a sort and, therefore, justified.”

Percy, in his TV interview, responded to Allen’s remarks on the PLO and Israeli strikes into Lebanon. “Terrorism”, he said, is part of the PLO’s activities. He also said that PLO chief Yasir Arafat has “disap

pointed” him. But Percy also referred to the PLO as a “nation” and said that “most other Arab nations” have recognized Israel as a state. Actually, only Egypt has recognized Israel.


“I’ve never considered the PLO moderates as they could not by any stretch of imagination be considered moderates because terrorism is an element of their getting ahead,” Percy said. While declaring that he deplored “attacks on both sides,” the Illinois Republican added:

“I’ve seen with my own eyes camps run inside Lebanon used as staging grounds for strikes inside Israel. So I hope the Arabs–the ball is in their court–put pressure on the PLO to stop their terrorist tactics. Then, of course, we can with morality say to our friends in Israel, ‘let’s mutually stop these terrorist attacks’.”

Asked if Arafat had “disappointed you” since Percy had met with him personally, the Senator replied, “Of course, because the conditions precedent to my original position six years ago have not changed. I said we cannot deal with them (the PLO) unless they recognize the sovereign rights of Israel behind defensible borders and to live in peace and he (Arafat) has never said that as most other Arab nations have.” Percy said Arafat must also accept the United Nations Security Council resolutions dealing with those issues.

Recommended from JTA