HAS THE PLO RENOUNCED TERRORISM? (Senate - February 08, 1989)

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Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, in one of his first acts on Middle East policy as Secretary of State, James Baker successfully prevented an attempt by the Palestinian Liberation Organization to secure passage by the United Nations Security Council of a resolution harshly critical of Israel.

As reported in the New York Times of February 2, passage of this resolution would have been unprecedented. I will ask unanimous consent that this article be printed in the Record at the conclusion of my remarks.

The PLO resolution would have been the first Security Council resolution condemning Israel's handling of the uprising in its territories without also calling for restraint by Palestinians. U.S. acceptance of this resolution would have also sent a clear signal to the members of the United Nations that the Bush administration would sanction the use of the Security Council for indiscriminate bashing of those anti-Communist countries most commonly subject to U.N. condemnation.

Mr. President, fortunately, Secretary Baker saw to it that this resolution was derailed. For this, the Secretary deserves commendation. I hope he will continue along this line, and appreciate the PLO for what it truly is: a terrorist organization interested not in peace, but rather dedicated to the ultimate destruction of Israel, the displacement of American influence in the Middle East and the spread of radical, Marxist ideology throughout the world.

Yasser Arafat and the PLO simply cannot--nor should not--be trusted. President Reagan stated many times that the Palestine Liberation Organization is one of the world's most notorious terrorist operations. He is absolutely right.

Former Secretary of State Shultz stated that there is `convincing evidence that Yasser Arafat knows of, condones, and lends support to terror against Americans.' He, too, is absolutely correct.

And the fact remains, Mr. President, that the United States simply cannot expect to wage an effective war against terrorism by negotiating with terrorists like those of the PLO.

The PLO has been responsible for the deaths of literally dozens of totally innocent Americans. And I find it hard to believe that they are serious about their commitment to forswear terrorism.

In fact, the PLO has made statements in the past which have been heralded as renunciations of terror. But of course, terrorism just continued after these pronouncements. Arafat provided the Western media with pledges of peace and

flexibility, only to continue a campaign of terror aimed at innocent civilians.

A most striking illustration of Arafat's skillful attempts at duplicity is contained in a speech he gave in Cairo on November 7, 1985, following talks with President Mubarak. After declaring the Palestinians' right to their own independent state, and after calling for an international conference for peace in the Middle East--including the Soviet Union and the PLO--Arafat pledged:

In an attempt to give momentum to the ongoing efforts to convene an international peace conference, the PLO announces its condemnation and denunciation of all acts of terrorism involving countries or carried out by individuals or groups against innocent and defenseless people anywhere. The PLO reiterates its 1974 decision condemning operations conducted abroad and all forms of terrorism. It reaffirms that all its factions and institutions abide by this decision. The PLO will henceforth take all possible measures to deter violators.

This statement was in 1985. Since this `denunciation of all acts of terrorism,' the PLO has carried out numerous terrorist operations resulting. Many of these operations were targeted against American citizens. According to a compilation prepared by my staff from published news and other reports, the PLO has killed at least four innocent Americans, and has otherwise victimized many others since Arafat's 1985 renunciation of terrorism.

On April 2, 1986, four Americans were killed and five Americans were wounded when a bomb exploded aboard a TWA flight going from Rome to Athens. It is widely suspected that this bomb was planted by the `Hawari group,' otherwise known as the Special Operations Group of Fatah's Central Security and Intelligence Apparatus. The Fatah--according the recent report of the Vice President's Task Force on Combatting Terrorism, is chaired by Yasser Arafat.

This `Hawari group,' according to the State Department, controls terrorist cells in the Middle East, Western Europe, and the Eastern bloc. (Department of State; Office of the Ambassador at Large for Counterterrorism; October 31, 1988; Fact Sheet: The Hawari Group, pg 1).

Explosives belonging to Arafat's `Hawari group' have been discovered in Belgium, Morocco, and Paris. The Hawari group also planted a bomb in a car belonging to the United States Embassy in Lisbon on February 18, 1986. (`Terrorist Acts by Selected PLO Groups Since the Cairo Declaration' compiled by CRS from a variety of US sources).

In October 1986, a hand-grenade was thrown near the Western Wall in Jerusalem, injuring an American. According to a Washington Times article of October 16, 1986, a PLO representative claimed responsibility saying that `the decision to escalate operations inside Israel was taken by PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.'

Other PLO terrorist activities since the `Cairo Declaration' have been undertaken by Force 17, which is an

elite, highly professional terror group. It also functions as an intelligence operation for Arafat. They both have claimed the murders and woundings of many innocent people, both in and out of Israel.

In a ruthlessness difficult to imagine, Force 17 carried out the cold-blooded assassination of a famous Palestinian cartoonist in London on July 22, 1987. The cartoonist evidently did not exhibit sufficient loyalty to Arafat, and was killed for it.

Force 17 is especially active in Israel, where it targets innocent civilians. In fact, over just 2 years--1986-88--this terrorist operation killed 8 people and wounded 36 people. (State Dept. Fact Sheet: Fatah's Force 17)

Of great concern to all Americans should be the PLO's recent attempt on the life of Secretary of State Shultz. In March 1988, the PLO planted a car bomb. The bomb was planted outside the Jerusalem hotel at which the Secretary was staying. Fortunately, this PLO terrorist attack was foiled.

Mr. President, all of these PLO terrorist activities took place after Arafat's Cairo declaration denouncing terrorism. In fact, early last month the Vice President's Task Force on Combatting Terrorism officially confirmed Arafat's propensity for ignoring previous pledges to refrain from terrorism. According to the report of this task force:

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In an effort to improve Fatah's image with the United States and the West, Arafat decided to limit the employment of terrorist operations to Israel, Lebanon, and the occupied territories. The Fatah has not always adhered to this pledge. * * *

Mr. President, what should concern Americans is that Arafat's failure to abide by past pledges to refrain from terrorism appears not to be the result of any accident, but rather from a calculated plan to deceive the Western world.

My colleagues may well be advised to review Red Horizons, a book written by Lt. Gen. Ion Pecepa, former chief of the Romanian secret service and trusted aide to Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu. In this book, General Pecepa recounts conversations between Arafat and Ceausescu in which Arafat admits that he takes on the role of a moderate or pacifist from time to time in order to placate the West and bait the State Department.

This charade apparently includes arranging for more radical Palestinian groups--actually under PLO control--to attack Arafat for his moderation. As a chief Arafat aide, Hani Hassan, told General Pecepa:

We want to mount some spectacular operations against the PLO, making it look as if they had been organized by Palestinian extremist groups that accuse the Chairman (Arafat) of becoming too conciliatory and moderate . . . [t]he Chairman is now really hooked on influence. It won't be long before I'll be able to create a positive image for him in the West.

Mr. President, what reason do we have to believe that Arafat will abide by his newest pledge to refrain from

terrorism? Very little. He has flouted past pledges to refrain from terrorism and has carried out a deliberate campaign to deceive Americans. He will no doubt flout the pledges he was instructed to make by the State Department.

In fact, just last month, Arafat announced over the radio that: `Whoever thinks of stopping the inifadah before it achieves its goals, I will give him 10 bullets in the chest.' Within hours, the mayor of Bethlehem dropped his proposal for a cease fire in the territories.

Mr. President, terrorism is fed by the belief that tangible political objectives can be achieved through sustained campaigns of violence against innocent men, women, and children.

To the extent that the State Department conducts negotiations with PLO terrorists without proof that the PLO and all its factions have forsworn terrorism in theory and practice, our Government's efforts to prevent and combat international terrorism are severely compromised.

Arafat's propensity for issuing pledges he totally intends to ignore requires that before talks proceed any further with the PLO, the State Department should insist that Arafat's latest pledge to renounce terrorism be ratified formally by his organization and carried out in practice.

I ask unanimous consent that the New York Times article to which I earlier referred be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the article was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

Baker's Decision-Making Process: An Early Test From the PLO


Washington, February 1: On his first day of work last week, Secretary of State James A. Baker 3d found himself faced with conflicting advice from within the State Department on how to vote on a draft United Nations statement slightly critical of Israel. Administration officials say the new Secretary decided on a firm stand against the proposed document, prompting its sponsors, Palestinians and nonaligned nations, to withdraw it for now.

While the officials cautioned against reading too much into the Baker decision, which had the approval of President Bush, they noted that it seemed to indicate certain basic attitudes that will guide the new Administration in its approach both to the United Nations and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The proposed Security Council statement was viewed by the State Department as a test inspired by the Palestine Liberation Organization. They said the P.L.O. wanted to see whether, in light of the contacts with Washington begun in December, the Bush Administration would support a declaration that was harshly critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinian demonstrators in the occupied territories while failing to call for restraint by Palestinians.

`Bush and Baker were sending out two messages,' a senior State Department official said. `They were telling the P.L.O. not to have any illusions that there has been a dramatic shift in America's approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict, simply because we have begun a dialogue, and they were sending a message to the United Nations that this Administration does not want to see the Security Council debased as a club for beating this or that country over the head every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.'

The maneuvering over the statement began on Jan. 18, when the P.L.O. proposed that a declaration be issued by the Security Council president, Ismail Razali of Malaysia, condemning Israel's handling of the Palestinian uprising. Security Council presidential statements are frequently used to express the sentiment of members, but unlike resolutions they are not binding. According to United Nations regulations, only member states are formally allowed to introduce such motions. Since the P.L.O. did not qualify, the seven nonaligned nations on the council agreed to sponsor their own draft.


The initial version put forward by the nonaligned group included what State Department officials described as very harsh language: references to Israel's `killing and wounding of innocent civilians including children,' identification of the West Bank and Jerusalem as `Palestinian territory,' and an assessment that Israel's treatment of the Palestinians was having `serious consequences on the prospects of achieving a settlement.'

The United States informed the nonaligned nations that it would oppose such a statement. After further consultations, the group came back on Jan. 23 with a new version, consisting of somewhat toned-down language. But this too was rejected by the State Department as unacceptable.

On Jan. 25, the nonaligned group produced still another draft, with even more muted language, urging `all parties to recognize the need for mutual understanding and respect as a contribution toward the peace process.'

At this point, a difference of opinion developed within the State Department. The Assistant Secretary for International Organizations, Richard S. Williamson, insisted that the statement call on all sides for `mutual restraint' and not just `mutual understanding,' on the ground that this has been the United States position and even the slightest shift in language could be subject to misinterpretation at this moment of transition.

The Bush Administration's choice as United Nations delegate, Thomas R. Pickering, also advised Secretary Baker not to give in on the language.


The Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, which oversees relations between Washington and the Arab states and Israel, argued that it would make more sense to accept the revised draft.

The Near East bureau, headed by an acting Assistant Secretary, Paul Hare reasoned that the language did not really constitute a condemnation of Israel and that if it were adopted, it would be quickly forgotten. It expressed concern that Washington's opposition might prompt the nonaligned nations to turn the statement into a formal Security Council resolution, which would then require a United States veto to kill it, `giving the whole problem much more visibility and the P.L.O. a bigger soapbox to stand on,' a State Department official said.

The conflicting positions were forwarded in writing to Secretary of State Baker last Thursday, his first full day on the job. Administration officials said Mr. Baker concluded that the language being proposed in the final draft was still `unbalanced' and that the alternative phrasing the State Department had demanded should have been acceptable to all sides. When he informed President Bush of this position, the President gave his support, a senior State Department official said.

On Monday, Mr. Baker instructed the United States Mission to hold firm and insist on a reference to `mutual restraint.' The nonaligned nations decided that they were not ready to compromise any further. On Tuesday night they announced that they were halting their efforts, for the time being, to get the statement adopted.

`We considered the draft relatively mild and never thought that there would be any opposition from the Administration,' said the P.L.O.'s United Nations spokesman, Riyad H. Mansour.

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