PLO COMMITMENTS COMPLIANCE ACT OF 1989 (Senate - April 12, 1989)

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Mr. MACK. Mr. President, yesterday the Senator from Connecticut [Mr. Lieberman] and I introduced S. 763, the PLO Commitments Compliance Act of 1989.

I ask that S. 763 be printed in the Congressional Record today, along with a letter from the Senator from Connecticut [Mr. Lieberman] and me to Member of the Senate requesting their support and related articles. I also ask that the Senator from California [Mr. Wilson] be added as an original cosponsor at the next printing of S. 763.

The material follows:

S. 763

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `PLO Commitments Compliance Act of 1989'.


The Congress finds that--

(1) United States policy regarding contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization (including its Executive Committee, the Palestine National Council, and any constituent groups related thereto, (hereinafter referred to as the `PLO')) set forth in the Memorandum of Agreement between the United States and Israel, dated September 1, 1975, stated that the United States `will not recognize or negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization so long has the PLO does not recognize Israel's right to exist and does not accept United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338';

(2) section 1302 of the International Security and Development Cooperation Act of 1985 (22 U.S.C. 2151 note; Public Law 99-83), effective October 1, 1985, stated that `no officer or employee of the United States Government and no agent or other individual acting on behalf of the United States Government shall negotiate with the Palestine Liberation organization or any representatives thereof (except in emergency or humanitarian situations) unless and until the Palestine Liberation organization recognizes Israel's right to exist, accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and renounces the use of terrorism';

(3) the Department of State statement of November 26, 1988, found that `the United States Government has convincing evidence that PLO elements have engaged in terrorism against Americans and others' and that `Mr. [Yasser] Arafat, Chairman of the PLO, knows of, condones, and lends support to such acts; he therefore is an accessory to such terrorism';

(4) Secretary of State Shultz declared on December 14, 1988, that `the [PLO] today issued a statement in which it accepted United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, recognized Israel's right to exist in peace and security, and renounced terrorism. As a result, the United States is prepaed for a substantive dialogue with PLO representatives';

(5) President Ronald Reagan, subsequent to the decision to open an United States-PLO dialogue, stated that the PLO `must demonstrate that its renunciation of terrorism is pervasive and permanent' and if the PLO reneges on its commitments, the United States `will certainly break off communications';

(6) since Yasser Arafat's statements in Geneva, there have been several attempted incursions into Israel by PLO member groups, that Arafat has not renounced any of these potential terrorist incidents, that he has threatened `ten bullets in the chest' to any of his own people who seek peace and coexistence with Israel, and that his principal deputy, Abu Iyad, as well as other senior Al-Fatah figures, have been quoted as saying that the PLO recognition of Israel and renunciation of terrorism is merely tactical and that a Palestinian state is but the first step in the `liberation of Palestine'; and

(7) such actions and statements give both the United States and Israel reason to question the PLO's ultimate intentions.


(a) In General: The Congress reiterates long-standing United States policy that any dialogue with the PLO be contingent upon the PLO's recognition of Israel's right to exist, its acceptance of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and its abstention from and renunciation of all acts of terrorism.

(b) Policy Toward Implementation of PLO Commitments: It is the sense of the Congress that the United States, in any discussions with the PLO, should seek the implementation of concrete steps by the PLO consistent with its commitments to move towards peace and recognition of Israel and away from terrorism and other violence, including concrete actions that will further the peace process, such as--

(1) disbanding units which have been involved in terrorism;

(2) publicly condemning all acts of terrorism for which they are not responsible while continuing to abstain from committing acts of terrorism;

(3) ceasing the intimidation of Palestinians seeking peace with Israel;

(4) calling on the Arab states to recognize Israel and to end their economic boycott of Israel; and

(5) amending the PLO's Covenant to remove provisions which undermine Israel's legitimacy and which call for Israel's destruction.


Beginning 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, and every 120 days thereafter in which the dialogue between the United States and the PLO has not been discontinued, the President shall submit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate a report, in unclassified form to the maximum extent practicable, regarding progress toward the achievement of the measures described in section 3(b). Such report shall include--

(1) a description of actions or statements by the PLO as an organization, its Chairman, members of its Executive Committee, members of the Palestine National Council, or any constituent groups related thereto, as they relate to the Geneva commitments of December 1988 regarding cessation of terrorism and recognition of Israel's right to exist;

(2) the extent to which the PLO and its members continue to endorse or participate in terrorist operations against Israel;

(3) the position of the PLO regarding the prosecution and extradition, if so requested, of known terrorists such as Abu Abbas, who directed the Achille Lauro hijacking during which Leon Klinghoffer was murdered, and Muhammed Rashid, implicated in the 1982 bombing of a Pan Am jet and the 1986 bombing of a TWA jet in which four Americans were killed;

(4) steps taken by the PLO to evict or otherwise discipline individuals or groups taking actions inconsistent with the Geneva commitments;

(5) whether `Force 17' and the `Hawari Group', units directed by Yasser Arafat that have carried out terrorist attacks, have been disbanded;

(6) whether the PLO has called on any Arab state to recognize and enter direct negotiations with Israel or to end its economic boycott of Israel;

(7) whether the PLO, in accordance with procedures in Article 33 of the Palestinian National Covenant, has repealed provisions in that Covenant which call for Israel's destruction;

(8) the PLO's position on and involvement in fostering violence in the West Bank and Gaza;

(9) the extent to which the PLO threatens, through violence or other intimidation measures, Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza who actively seek peace with Israel, an end to the unrest and who might be receptive to taking part in elections there; and

(10) whether the PLO has repudiated its `strategy of stages', whereby it seeks to use a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as the first step in the total elimination of the State of Israel.



U.S. Senate,
Washington, DC, April 7, 1989.

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Dear Colleague: On December 14, 1988 Secretary of State George Shultz announced that the United States would open a `substantive dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). In doing so, Secretary Shultz recognized that the PLO had fulfilled three long-standing conditions in U.S. law and practice: recognition of the State of Israel, acceptance of UN Resolutions 242 and 338, and renunciation of terrorism.

Recently, however, the architect of the original conditions for a US-PLO dialogue, Henry Kissinger, wrote, `What never occurred to some of us in drafting that document was that these conditions would one day be met by semantic formulas rather than by an insistence on concrete changes in attitude.'

To this date, the PLO has not gone beyond `semantic formulas' and on to the real, substantive steps that would signal a lasting transformation away from terrorism and towards peace. In fact, since December the PLO has, if anything, backtracked and come close to breaking its commitments.

Since PLO Chairman Yassir Arafat's statement in Geneva, there have been at least seven attempted terrorist raids against Israel. Arafat has personally threatened `ten bullets in the chest' to any Palestinian seeking peace with Israel. And only two weeks ago Arafat said, `the Declaration of Palestinian Independence constitutes a beginning of the real confrontation of the Zionist project on the land of Palestine itself.'

Perhaps even more disappointingly for the peace process, no new Arab leader has taken the PLO's recognition of Israel seriously enough to follow suit.

On Tuesday, April 11, we will introduce the `PLO Commitments Compliance Act of 1989', a bill reiterating U.S. policy that any U.S.-PLO dialogue be contingent upon continued compliance by the PLO with the U.S. conditions on abstention from terrorism and recognition of Israel. The bill also outlines the concrete steps the Congress believes the PLO must take to bring its actions into line with its expressed commitments. Finally, the bill requires regular reports on whether the PLO has taken any of these positive, necessary steps away from terrorism and towards peace.

If you would like to be an original cosponsor of the PLO Commitments Compliance Act of 1989, please contact Saul Singer (4-5274, Sen. Mack) or Tom Parker (4-4041, Sen. Lieberman) by noon, April 11th.






From the Washington Post, Apr. 7, 1989


A Stone's Throw to a PLO State


Iraq is acquiring nuclear bombs. Syria already has poison gas. Saudi Arabia has long-range missiles. And now we learn that Libya, which is building a chemical weapons factory, is acquiring long-range fighter-bombers. At which country do you think these weapons of extermination will be aimed?

The target, in Arab parlance, is not a country at all, but the `Zionist entity.' (The fact that not a single Arab country has recognized Israel following Yasser Arafat's much heralded `recognition' of Israel last December shows that the rhetorical device, meant to impress eternally gullible Americans, was thoroughly understood by the Arabs to be meaningless.)

Nuclear bombs and poison gas and long-range missiles do not show up on American television. What shows up nightly are 16-year-old boys throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. The viewer can be forgiven for believing that Israel is threatened by no more than 16-year-old stone-throwers and for wondering at the hardheartedness of the Jews in denying these youths their own state on a small piece of Middle Eastern territory.

But in a Palestinian state, 16-year-old boys will not rule. The armed factions of the PLO will. The West Bank will become the locus of murderous conflicts between PLO factions, each backed by an Arab patron, precisely as has happened in Lebanon for the last 14 years. (Today's Lebanese lineup card has, among other things, Iraqis arming Christians, Syrians arming Druze, and Iranians arming Shiites). After the occupation, the West Bank, now Belfast, becomes Beirut.

The real danger from a West Bank state is not stones thrown into Tel Aviv, but inherent instability. Being nonviable economically and politically, a West Bank state would need to expand into its neighbors--Israel and Jordan--in order to become viable. The resulting irredentist turmoil and agitation would invite intervention from states such as Syria and Iraq.

These states, implacably opposed to Israel's existence and now possessing not only huge tank armies but also weapons of mass extermination, await two developments before risking a war for the final liberation of Palestine: a gravely weakened Israel (i.e., an Israel that had given up the strategic depth of the West Bank) and the opportunity to intervene on behalf of a beleaguered state of Palestine. A PLO state provides both of these indispensable conditions for war.

A PLO state, an idea now as fashionable as the checkered kafiyeh, is a trap. What is the alternative? The alternative, outlined by Israeli Prime Minister Shamir on his visit this week in Washington, is a peace process that rests on two principles: a transitional period and elections.

Whatever arrangements Israel and the Palestinians make, no ultimate solution is attainable now. There has to be a transition period during which each side can demonstrate to the other its bona fides. An Israeli poll taken last week shows that two-thirds of Israelis believe that the Palestinians will not be satisfied with a West bank state. They have reason so to believe. Only two weeks ago, Arafat said that `the Declaration of Palestinian Independence constitutes a beginning of the real confrontation of the Zionist project on the land of Palestine itself.' Leila Khalid puts it more bluntly: `We will return to Nablus and then move on to Tel Aviv.' Only time will permit a demonstration that the Palestinians do not truly intend what they now say they intend for Israel.

The second idea is elections on the West Bank to produce an indigenous Palestinian negotiating authority. The ferocity with which this idea has been attacked by non-West Bank Palestinians makes one wonder what they are so afraid of. Prof. Rashid Khalidi, writing from Chicago, says there could be no real election under the harsh conditions of Israeli occupation.

The idea that a secret ballot cannot be conducted honestly by the Israelis is simply false. No one disputes the honesty of the West Bank municipal elections conducted in 1976. (In fact, they were so honest in expressing Palestinian discontent that the Israeli government eventually fired the elected mayors.)

Moreover, Palestinian propagandists never hesitate to use polling data from the West Bank to prove the fealty of the West Bankers to the PLO. An opinion poll is an open ballot. Polls require conditions of far more political freedom than do secret ballots. Khalidi and other PLO propagandists freely invoke West Bank polls, yet now pretend that a secret ballot is not to be trusted. The argument is bogus. It reflects a deep fear by Palestinian exiles--most of whom come from (and thus want to take over) not the West Bank but Israel--that with elections they are going to lose the initiative to West Bankers, who might ultimately be more prepared for compromise.

Shamir's peace initiatives are already being derided as Camp David `old ideas.' Old? Do treaties now carry a 10-year statute of limitations? At Camp David, Israel gave up all of Sinai in return for certain arrangements and promises. Israel is now being asked to give up more land in return for more arrangements and promises. Will Israel be told 10 years later that these arrangements and promises are `old,' that Israel is now required to come up with `new ideas' to satisfy new and more expansive Palestinian aspirations for--who knows?--the Galilee? Trashing Camp David does not give Israel confidence that the United States will stand by its commitments when the Arabs, having pocketed Israel's concessions today, demand more tomorrow.

Elections, autonomy, transition. Shamir's ideas may not be new--novelty is a highly overrated diplomatic commodity--but they are realistic. They are the best way toward Bush's proclaimed goal of `Palestinian political rights.' Only Israel can grant these rights. And only under conditions of prudence and reciprocity will Israel grant them.



From the Washington Post, Jan. 7, 1989


Mr. Arafat's Threat To Kill

From Yasser Arafat, who says he has renounced terrorism, comes this reported response to a West Bank truce appeal by Bethlehem Mayor Elias Freji: `Any Palestinian leader who proposes an end to the intifada [uprising] exposes himself to the bullets of his own people and endangers his life. The PLO will know how to deal with him.' Immediately Mayor Freij backtracked and went into hiding.

When Yasser Arafat spoke the words about renouncing terrorism and accepting Israel that opened his line to Washington, it was said by those who welcomed this development that of course it was going to be hard for the PLO chairman to control the splinters and fringes but that he would have to understand that, to be fully credited by Israel, the United States and others, the renunciation must be categorical and universal, applying in all places and against all possible targets. The implicit premise was that the Palestinian movement has two parts: a political part, prepared to compromise, and a terrorist part, which would have to be isolated or broken. Yasser Arafat, it was felt, had finally been drawn across this ragged but fateful line.

Now, just a few weeks later, comes Mr. Arafat--himself, in public, baldly--uttering the kind of gross direct threat against a well-known Palestinian moderate that is a familiar feature of the mechanics of Palestinian control on the West Bank. It is the sort of warning that apologists for PLO terrorism commonly attribute to the Palestinian enemies and rivals of the chairman, thereby intending to absolve this supposed courageous moderate, this man of gentle persuasion and democracy, from responsibility for the rough stuff.

In the excitement of the December exchanges between the PLO and the United States, many Americans were tempted to believe that finally the PLO had turned a corner and was reaching realistically for peace. That is the judgment that Mr. Arafat's new statement clouds. He has provided a chilling reminder of the close and deadly weave between the political side and the terrorist side of the PLO. Not just from its ranks or splinters but from its top leaders' minds, the habit of conducting politics by violence must be convincingly eradicated. Otherwise very few Israelis are going to be drawn into dealing with the `new Arafat,' and very few Americans are going to urge them to do so.


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From the Wall Street Journal, Apr. 5, 1989


Middle Eastern Realities

The Middle East, its problems normally far away, is on America's doorstep this week. Israel's Yitzhak Shamir and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak are both making separate visits to talk with President Bush. With Secretary of State Baker in the lead, Mr. Bush is talking about an international peace conference and the need for `a new atmosphere.' Over the years, Washington probably has spent more time sitting in rooms in Washington talking about the Middle East than any other foreign-policy problem. We suspect the quality of that talk would benefit greatly if both George Bush and Jim Baker personally toured those portions of the old Palestine Mandate that sit at the heart of this matter.

We did so recently, particularly the hills of Samaria. The United Nations had allotted these hills to the Jordanians in 1947. They would still have them but for the fact that in 1967 during the Six Day War, when it looked as if Israel would be destroyed by Syria and Egypt, Jordan belatedly joined the fray, only to lose Judea as well as Samaria. Arab attacks in 1973 failed to destroy Israel, and Jordan abandoned its claim to the lands last year.

We entered by car northeast of Tel Aviv, at a point where according to the old lines of 1949, Israel was but nine miles wide. The rocky hills rise sharply (some, but not all, have enough grass to graze goats, and in the valleys there is increasing agriculture by Arabs and Jews). In 1977 in Judea and Samaria there were 25 Jewish settlements and two more under construction; today there are 138. Our guide--Ariel Sharon, who was a minister involved in the development of this region when much of the expansion was planned--routed us near or through a dozen of these towns, neat concrete and stucco housing, some with factories, university or agricultural buildings.

To the Israelis, the most striking thing about this area is its military significance by three important measures: depth (from the Samarian hills one can scan with the naked eye the Israeli coast and its main population centers); the eastern front (a quick drive inland and one is looking at the Jordan River and the potential invasion routes of Jordan, Syria and Iraq); and Jerusalem (these hills feed to the approaches of Israel's capital). Jewish towns now overlook the most important military vantage points, intersections and roads.

It is sobering to stand in the Samarian hills with General Sharon, to listen to his explication of their military significance and to be reminded by him that Czechoslovakia's key defensive positions lay in the Sudetenland, which was lost through peace negotiations at Munich. One thing the visitor notices is how small the perspectives are in this region, which is why global strategists worry about a conflict today escalating out of control. Imagine, for instance, the implications of Iraqi chemical weapons being launched indiscriminately aboard inaccurate missiles. Israel would no doubt take what measures it thought necessary to end an assault by such weapons.

It is difficult to find in Israel a responsible official who doubts that the Arab riots and the current peace overtures are part of a broader military strategy. While the PLO's chairman, Yasser Arafat, is talking peace to the Americans and the Western press, his PLO colleagues are reminding the Arabs of the `phased plan' adopted in 1974 by the Palestine National Council in Cairo. The plan eyes the destruction of Israel in phases, starting with the declaration of a PLO state on any land that can be gained and operating from there.

As recently as November of last year, the PLO journal Al-Yom Al-Sabah quoted Abu Iyad, Mr. Arafat's key deputy, as saying that the PNC decisions last year in Algiers, which set the stage for the current peace overtures, `are a refinement of the Palestinian position as adopted in the Phased Plan in Cairo 14 years ago. * * * The PNC session in Algiers in 1988 was meant to revitalize this program and to create a mechanism to get it moving.'

In January, the Agence France Press quoted Nayif Hawatmeh, chairman of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a PLO constituent, as saying, `The Palestine struggle should now be aimed at creating a state in the West Bank and Gaza. This will not prevent us from achieving our final aim of liberating all of Palestine.' Mr. Bush's State Department Arabists undoubtedly can provide him with reams of this documentary material.

Even in the volatile politics of the Middle East it's important to note gradations of responsibility among the players. Egypt concluded and has honored a peace with its Israeli neighbor. In resolving the Taba dispute recently, Egypt showed an ability to negotiate responsibly toward a goal, rather than bluster for the world media. Jordan obviously wants out of this conflict. It is harder to gauge precisely the intentions of a Saudi Arabia that is embarking on a $30 billion arms-buying binge.

But can Israel assume that any of these could stand aside in a war provoked by Arab hotheads such as Iraq and Syria? Israel faces on its eastern front more combat divisions than the 21 active divisions that exist in the U.S. Army; Iraq's army alone has ballooned since 1979 to 47 divisions from seven. Israeli analysts have little doubt that were a Palestinian state to be set up on the West Bank the region's forces would gradually (or suddenly) be brought forward and, without a buffer, the Jewish state would be in mortal peril.

To put it plainly, what is at stake in any `new' political arrangement is Israel's survival. And in turn what is at stake for the United States is the credibility of this country's commitment to an embattled nation that has remained a democratic outpost for 40 years. Rather than see Israel destroyed in any war, the U.S. almost certainly would feel forced to intervene, politically and perhaps militarily. If, however, it remains the goal of U.S. policy to prevent war in this region, it is no doubt easier to do so by making its loyalties clear now, rather than when the armies are moving.