Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Jewish Leadership Calls on U.S. to Terminate Dialogue with PLO

June 11, 1990
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The top leadership of organized American Jewry has called on the Bush administration to cut off its 17-month dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization, because of a PLO faction’s attempted raid late last month on Israeli beaches near Tel Aviv.

The call was issued Friday in New York by Seymour Reich, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which represents 46 national Jewish groups.

“Our country has no other course but to terminate its talks with the PLO,” Reich said in a statement.

“At stake is the credibility of the American government in the war against terrorism,” he said. “Our country cannot lead a campaign against worldwide terrorism while holding ongoing discussions with the world’s most notorious terrorist organization.”

The Bush administration has not yet decided whether to break off its dialogue, which began in December 1988, after PLO leader Yasir Arafat publicly renounced terrorism and recognized Israel’s right to exist.

“We are discussing all of that,” President Bush said Friday aboard Air Force One as he was flying from Des Moines to Omaha. “I’m not prepared to make an announcement on policy at this point.”

Secretary of State James Baker had a similar comment Friday at a news conference ending a NATO ministerial meeting in Turnberry, Scotland.

“When we are satisfied we know all we need to know, we will act in a way which reflects our commitment to promoting peace but being resolute in condemning terrorism,” Baker said.


Although Arafat has denied any responsibility for the May 30 aborted attack, he has not responded to U.S. demands that he condemn it outright.

Arafat also has not acted to remove Mohammed (Abul) Abbas from the PLO’s Executive Committee. It was Abbas’ Palestine Liberation Front faction that attempted to attack two Israeli beaches near Tel Aviv on May 30.

Four terrorists were killed and 12 captured in the incident. One of the surviving terrorists later said the group planned to kill as many civilians as possible.

The PLO Executive Committee ended a meeting last Thursday in Baghdad without mentioning the terrorist raid or Abbas, who is wanted in the United States for the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of a wheel-chair-bound American Jewish passenger, Leon Klinghoffer.

“I’d like to see Mr. Arafat speak out” against the latest attack, Bush said. He said the U.S.-PLO dialogue “is predicated on a renunciation of terror. In my view this is sheer terror.”

“Terrorism is something that has to be taken very, very seriously, ” Baker said. “It is important that we pursue peace in the Middle East in a serious manner.”

Also speaking at the NATO news conference was British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd. He urged Arafat to be “more precise and specific in condemning the beach attack.”

Recommended from JTA