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Percy Warns Israel to Refrain from Further ‘unilateral Actions’

December 31, 1981
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Sen. Charles Percy (R. 111.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, ended his three-day visit today by warning Israel to desist from further “unilateral actions” taken “without regard for the interests of the United States” in shoring up regional security and advancing the peace process. In a statement to the press, Percy said such actions could endanger the special relationship between the two countries.

He said that during his talks with Israeli leaders, including Premier Menachem Begin and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, he had urged a “moderation of rhetoric” in the relationship which had “aggravated” differences, especially following the extension of Israeli law to the Golan Heights. This move was one of the “unilateral actions” Percy had referred to during his talks with Israeli leaders. Two others were Israel’s bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor and the Palestine Liberation Organization headquarters in Beirut.

The Senator stressed that he had been given “categorical assurances” from Israeli leaders that Israel would strictly abide by its peace treaty with Egypt which calls for final withdrawal from Sinai next April. Percy said he was confident that Egypt would respond in kind by pursuing the normalization process between the two countries as stipulated in the treaty.

He said he had also urged Israeli leaders to pursue “most urgently” the autonomy talks because time was not unlimited. Israeli reports said Begin had urged Percy when they met for three hours yesterday to persuade the Reagan Administration to appoint a special envoy to the autonomy talks. The Senator revealed that he had met with three Palestinian leaders during his visit but did not name them. Israel Radio said later that one was Mayor Elias Freij of Bethlehem. Percy’s next stop in his Middle East tour is Jordan.

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