Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Young Insists There Was Nothing Wrong with Meeting a PLO Official

August 17, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Andrew Young, who resigned yesterday as United States Ambassador to the United Nations, maintained today that there was nothing wrong with his meeting last month with the PLO observer at the UN, Zehadi Labib Terzi. “I sought to protect the State Department from the things that I was doing,” he told a press conference. “And I did that in part because the State Department had very little credibility with either the Israelis or the Arabs.”

Young repeated that he met with Terzi to seek postponement on a Security Council resolution proposed by Kuwait calling for Palestinian self-determination and a Palestinian state. The vote has been postponed until Aug. 23, apparently as a result of this meeting.

If the U.S. voted for the resolution, it would have totally alienated Israel, Young said. If the U.S. vetoed it, there would have been serious consequences for the U.S. in the Arab world and if the U.S. abstained, “it would have made everybody mad,” Young contended.

He said he had met with Israeli Ambassador Yehuda Blum Monday night to avoid a public backlash on the issue. “I said in fact a big uproar over this issue only creates a constituency on the Palestinian issue that does not exist,” Young stated. “It was the Israeli government that has decided to make this a public issue.”


Young said he saw no reason that this issue should create a polarization between American Jews and Blacks. He said while there will be a “confrontation as friends,” the two groups could continue working together. “I think that right now Black leaders are meeting and will be attempting to meet leaders of the Jewish community,” he said. “They will also attempt, as I am attempting, to channel frustration and rage over this situation into constructive patterns of working together. The issue really is the Middle East.”

It was reported that Young called up Black leaders in major cities after his resignation and urged them to “cool” Black communities and not allow resentment over his departure to be taken out against the Jews.

At the press conference, Young said that he assumed conversations of UN diplomats were being electronically monitored but said he did not know whether Israeli agents had bugged his talk with Terzi at the home of the Kuwait Ambassador as a copyrighted story in the Atlanta Constitution alleged today. The newspaper said that Israeli intelligence agents following Terzi learned of his meeting with Young and what they discussed.

Young, meanwhile, will continue to serve as president of the Security Council until the end of this month. In that capacity, he will preside over the Council debate on Palestinian rights, to be resumed Aug. 23.

Reacting to Young’s resignation, Blum ex- pressed sadness last night. In a statement issued immediately after Young’s resignation was announced in Washington, Blum said: “I greatly appreciated the courage and candor of Ambassador Young when he came to see me on Monday to explain the nature of his meeting last month with the observer of the terrorist PLO to the United Nations.

“Nonetheless, this in no way detracts from the gravity of his act which deviates from solemn assurances to Israel that the U.S. government would have no dealings whatsoever with the PLO It is also an indication of a serious shift in U.S. policy at a sensitive stage in the ongoing peace process.” Blum added that he continued to regard Young as a friend and that he hoped their friendship would continue.

At the United Nations, Arab diplomats were almost unanimous in regarding Young’s resignation as the result of a “Zionist plot” and a new proof that the “Israeli-Jewish lobby” in Washington dictates American foreign policy. Terzi, in a statement, charged that the American government succumbed to “Israeli-Zionist blackmail.”

A spokesman at the Egyptian Mission to the UN told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in response to a question that his mission has no statement to make over Young’s resignation. In Beirut, PLO leader Yasir Arafat was quoted as saying that Young had to resign because “he believed in the just cause of the Palestinian people.”

Blum, asked by the JTA today to respond to Arab charges that Young’s resignation was the result of Jewish-Zionist pressure, said, “This charge is in conformity with the Arab propaganda line that espouses the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” He said also that the personality of Young was not an issue with Israel. “We are concerned about a change in American foreign policy. This (Young’s meeting with a PLO representative) was only one indication of this change. There are other indications as well,” Blum said without elaborating.

Recommended from JTA