Mr. LAUTENBERG (for Mr. Mack, for himself, Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Lautenberg, Mr. Grassley, Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Graham, and Mr. Nickles) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations:
Whereas, Section 1302 of Public Law 99-83 states that `no officer or employees of the United States Government . . . shall negotiate with the PLO or any representatives thereof . . . unless and until the PLO recognize's Israel's right to exist, accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and renounces the use of terrorism';
Whereas, on May 30, 1990, the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), a member organization of the PLO, attempted a terrorist attack against Israel;
Whereas, the leadership of the PLO has yet to condemn the May 30 terrorist attempt or to expel PLF leader Abul Abbas from PLO's Executive Committee; Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring) declares that--
(1) the PLO should condemn the May 30 PLF attack on Israel;
(2) the PLO should expel PLF leader Abul Abbas from the PLO Executive Committee given his role in the attack; and
(3) if these PLO actions are not taken in the immediate future, the United States should suspend its dialogue with the PLO until the PLO has fully demonstrated by concrete actions, including condemning the recent attack and expelling Abul Abbas from its Executive Committee, the PLO's commitments to recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce the use of terrorism.
Mr. LAUTENBERG. I thank you, Mr. President, for giving me the opportunity to now speak about a matter of great concern to the occupant of the chair, myself, and many other Members of this body.
Mr. President, I have here a concurent resolution on behalf of Senator Mack, Senator Liberman, the occupant of the chair, myself, Senator Grassley, Senator Mitchell, Senator Graham of Florida, and Senator Nickles. And I send this resolution to the desk, and ask for its consideration.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The concurrent resolution will be received and referred to the appropriate committee.
Mr. LAUTENBERG. Mr. President, I am pleased to be able to join my colleagues in submitting this sense-of-the-Senate resolution. It calls on the administration to suspend its dialog with the PLO if the PLO fails to expel Abul Abbas from the PLO Executive Committee and condemn the May 30 attack in Israel in the immediate future. The time has come to call off this dialog between the United States and the PLO for a very simple reason: The tiger has not changed its stripes.
On May 30, the Palestine Liberation Front, a constituent group of the PLO, launched a seaborne raid on Israel. Fortunately, due to the excellent work of the Israeli intelligence and the military, the attack was foiled and no one was killed.
This attempted terrorist act clearly violates the PLO's commitment to renounce terrorism. That was the basis upon which a dialog was begun between our country and the PLO. It was a cardinal principle of the understanding that the PLO would not encourage nor support nor believe that terrorism was the way to solve the problems. It is a peculiar approach to peace to try to achieve it by creating more violence.
This attack was intended to kill as many innocent Israeli civilians as possible. The Palestine Liberation Front, known as the PLF, headed by Abul Abbas, has unabashedly claimed responsibility for this heinous act.
The connection between the PLF and the PLO is undisputed. The PLF is represented on the PLO's Executive Committee by none other than Abul Abbas, the man who masterminded the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking, and the murder of Leon Klinghoffer.
Our assistant Secretary of State, John Kelly, has acknowledged that the PLF is a constituent part of the PLO. He testified before Congress recently that the United States will hold all members of the PLO Executive Committee and all of its constituent groups to Yasser Arafat's commitment to renounce terrorism.
When the United States began its dialog with the PLO, former United States Ambassasdor to Israel, Thomas Pickering and the Ambassador to Tunis, Robert Pelletreau, made clear that if terriorism occurs, the United States expects the PLO to condemn the action publicly and discipline the individual or the group
responsible by at very least expelling them from the PLO. Calling on Yasser Arafat to expel Abul Abbas from the Executive Committee and condemn its recent terrorist attack follows from those original understandings.
Two weeks ago, 2 days after the attempted attack, I, along with 32 of my colleagues, sent a telegram to Secretary of State Baker. It urged the administration to immediately call upon Yasser Arafat to unequivocally denounce the attempted terrorist attack on Israel by the Palestine Liberation Front, and to expel Abul Abbas from the PLO's Executive Committee. The telegram said that if he did not take such steps, we should reevaluate the wisdom of our current policy of dialog with the PLO. Thirty-five more Senators have since added their names to this telegram which was sent again last Friday, making it clear that a majority of the Senate shares this view.
I ask unanimous consent, Mr. President, that a copy of this telegram appear in the Record, with a list of those Senators who added their names, following my remarks.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Riegle). Without objection, it is so ordered.
(See exhibit No. 1).
Mr. LAUTENBERG. This was Arafat's golden opportunity to prove that the tiger had really changed his stripes; to align himself with the forces of peace and make it clear that he really has taken to the path of moderation; to prove to Israel that the PLO really is a moderate organization where terrorists are unwelcome, and the desire for peace is real; to show the United States that there really is something tangible to be gained from continuing this dialog.
What did he do? He failed to rise to the challenge, issuing a weak and pallid denial of responsibility. In effect, he said, so what. Despite strong administration pressure on Mr. Arafat to condemn the attack and discipline those responsible by expelling Abbas from the PLO Executive Committee, Arafat refused to take these steps. Instead, he said only that the PLO was not responsible for the raid. He declined to deplore the operation or to take any action against the Palestine Liberation Front.
Today, press reports indicate that an unidentified PLO spokesman said that the PLO is against any military action that targets civilians, whatever form it may take--an unidentified spokesman. That is simply not good enough. The United States has insisted from the beginning that Yasser Arafat renounce terrorism and publicly denounce and discipline those who continue to commit terrorist acts. He has refused to do so. He has made a mockery of our dialog and undermined its central purpose of promoting peace and eradicating terrorism.
Mr. President, there is a long history of violence perpetrated by the PLO and its affiliates. One looks to Israel to let down its guard and come to the bargaining table; to say that we will take to the Palestinians and engage them in a serious debate; to say that they want to make peace, that they will surrender territory that is in fact occupied by the PLO or its disciples. But when we see an attack like this, we understand their caution. This is not the first, nor sadly, the last such attack.
The Israeli memory is continually sharpened by attacks across its border from neighbors and now from the sea. Once before, an attack was attempted from the sea, and it succeeded. Terrorists came aboard in Tel Aviv and slaughtered innocent people. The Israelis remember this so very well.
So while sometimes we lose our patience and we say to the Israelis, come on, come to the table, join in, talk to the PLO, they represent a moderate view, what we saw here was a confirmation of the things that the Israelis always have believed. That is, that the PLO is not interested in making peace, but the PLO is interested in eliminating the State of Israel from its present site.
Well, Mr. President, our country has an obligation to make sure that the conditions under which this dialog was begun continue to exist. Because we are not going to get anywhere unless the PLO understands that they first have to show good faith before anyone can expect the Israelis to sit down with them. The Israelis have said time and time again, `We will sit with Palestinians. We will not sit with the PLO.' Their judgment, unfortunately, is confirmed by this recent act.
So, Mr. President, I hope that the Senate will swiftly adopt this concurrent resolution. We do not have any other choice, unfortunately, but to suspend the dialog. I hope that the President will agree with us and terminate these discussions immediately.
I yield the floor.
Washington, DC, June 8, 1990.
Hon. James A. Baker III,
Secretary of State,
Department of State,
Dear Mr. Secretary: We are writing to urge the Administration to immediately call upon Yasser Arafat to unequivocally denounce the attempted terrorist attack on Israel by the Palestine Liberation Front, and to expel Abul Abbas from the PLO's Executive Committee. If he does not take such steps, we should reevaluate the wisdom of our current policy of dialogue with the PLO.
This attempted terrorist act violates the PLO's commitment to renounce terrorism. The attempted terrorist attack on the Israeli coast was apparently intended to kill as many innocent Israeli civilians as possible. The Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), headed by Abul Abbas, has unabashedly claimed responsibility for this heinous act.
The connection between the PLF and the PLO is undisputed. The PLF is represented on the PLO's ruling executive committee by Abul Abbas, who masterminded the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking and murder of Leon Klinghoffer. Assistant Secretary of State John Kelly has acknowledged that the PLF is a constituent part of the PLO. He testified before Congress last week that the U.S. will hold all members of the PLO Executive Committee and all its constituent groups to Yasser Arafat's commitment to renounce terrorism.
When the United States began its dialogue with the PLO, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Thomas Pickering made clear that if terrorism occurs, the U.S. expects the PLO to condemn the action publicly and discipline the group or persons responsible by expelling them from the PLO at the very least. Calling on Yasser Arafat to expel Abu Abbas from the Executive Committee and condemn its recent terrorist attempt should follow from these original understandings.
The U.S. must be firm in insisting that Yasser Arafat renounce terrorism and publicly denounce those who continue to commit terrorist acts. If he refuses to do so, he has made a mockery of our dialogue, and undermined its cental purpose of promoting peace and eradicating terrorism.
We await your response.
Frank R. Lautenberg, Max Baucus, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, William S. Cohen, Paul S. Sarbanes, Brock Adams, Richard Byran, Larry Pressler, Alan Cranston, John Kerry, John Breaux, Don Riegle, John McCain, Robert Kasten, Bob Graham, Dan Coats, Dave Durenberger, Phil Gramm, Charles R. Grassley, Dennis DeConcini, Quentin N. Burdick, Barbara A. Mikulski, Carl Levin, Christoper S. Bond, Gordon J. Humphrey, Joseph I. Lieberman, John D. Rockefeller IV, Alfonse D'Amato, Herb Kohl, Rudy Boschwitz, Arlen Specter, Paul Simon, Slade Gorton, Howard M. Metzenbaum, Connie Mack, Tom Harkin.
Alan J. Dixon, Daniel K. Inouye, John Heinz, Harry Reid, Robert J. Kerrey, J. Bennett Johnston, Bill Bradley, Bob Packwood, Lloyd Bentsen, Pete Wilson, Claiborne Pell, Kent Conrad, Tim Wirth, Orrin Hatch, Daniel Akaka, Edward Kennedy, Malcolm Wallop, Don Nickles, Mitch McConnell, Patrick J. Leahy, Albert Gore, Conrad Burns, Richard Shelby, Jeff Bingaman, Howell Heflin, John Glenn, Jesse Helms, David Boren, Jim Sasser, James M. Jeffords, Nancy Landon Kassebaum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut is recognized.
Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I am privileged to be one of the original cosponsors of this concurrent resolution, and I am particularly privileged to join with my colleague, the distinguished Senator from New Jersey. May I say that I identify myself with all that he spoke here this afternoon in support of this concurrent resolution, and I am pleased that he is one of the original cosponsors, because his presence on that resolution suggests that this is not just a response to an agreement that was made in Geneva in December 1988; it is not just an expression of our concern about the appropriate road to peace in the Middle East, but it is part of America's overall opposition to terrorism. The Senator from New Jersey has been one of the leaders in the Senate and in this country in fighting terrorism, and I think that pursuit should be seen as underlying this resolution.
Mr. President, I am privileged to also join with the bipartisan group of cosponsors of this concurrent resolution--Senator Mack, Senator Grassley, Senator Nickles, Senator Lautenberg--and may I say a particular word of thanks and gratitude and pride that the distinguished majority leader, Senator Mitchell of Maine, has joined us as an original cosponsor, because that certainly gives this concurrent resolution the strongest possible support.
Mr. President, I think all of us who submitted this concurrent resolution do so without any sense of joy, any sense of glee. We do it, in fact, with a profound sense of disappointment and sadness, because we understand that the suspension of the dialog between the PLO and the United States would also suspend the `most hopeful,' path to trust and peace in the Middle East that we have had for some time.
We have no choice, and the reality is that if we continue the dialog with the PLO in the aftermath of the attempted terrorist raid on the civilian population on the beaches in Israel, we will, in fact, set back the cause of peace in the Middle East.
If I may say very briefly, Mr. President, in December 1988 Yasser Arafat spoke some words that the U.S. Government had been asking him to speak to enter the peace process for more than 13 years. One of the key elements of his declaration in Geneva in that month in 1988 was the renunciation of terrorism. Those are not just words. The renunciation of terrorism means the renunciation of the use of violence to achieve political ends by clandestine groups. That is the accepted definition of that term. We asked Arafat to make that renunciation because of a basic American policy: We do not negotiate with terrorists, whether in the Middle East or anywhere else.
How could we begin a discussion with a group that used terrorism against our foremost ally in the Middle East, Israel, or against American citizens, or anyone else throughout the world? That was a contract that we entered into with Arafat. The renunciation of terrorism was a key component of that contract. The events of the last couple of weeks following May 30 say quite simply that that contract was broken.
Mr. President, as last year proceeded and the negotiations and discussions and dialog with the PLO in Tunis proceeded also, many of us here in this Chamber were troubled by what appeared to be evidence that factions of the PLO were not keeping the promise that Arafat made. They were, in fact, carrying out terrorist raids against civilian population, particularly within the State of Israel.
That prompted Senator Connie Mack of Florida and me to join together in introducing the PLO Compliance Act. It had a very simple purpose. It was to have the State Department report to the Congress every 4 months to tell us whether Yasser Arafat and the PLO were living up to the promises they made in Geneva in December 1988, because those promises were the basis of the decision by our Government, which was supported by President Reagan and Secretary of State Shultz, to go forward with this dialog with the POL.
The PLO Compliance Act was adopted, and we are grateful for the support it received here in the Senate and in the other body. It was signed by the President.
In March of this year the first compliance report was issued by the State Department. It was a disappointing report because it said that there had, in fact, been 30 terrorist raids into Israel since December 1988, that at least 9 of those had been carried out by factions of the PLO.
But the report excused Mr. Arafat from any responsibility saying that he either did not know about those raids or did not apparently participate in planning them and therefore could not be held accountable for what happened.
Senator Mack and I felt strongly that that was not a fair standard to hold Arafat to. It allowed him to have recognition through this dialog, his discussions in Tunis without any sense of responsibility. It allowed him to be a leader of the PLO but without any accountability for what factions of the PLO did.
I remember on that occasion Senator Mack and I spoke to an assembled group of people from the media and someone asked me, `Do you believe, based on what you see in this report, that the dialog between the United States and the PLO should be terminated?'
And I said: `No. I am still hopeful. I want to believe that Arafat will take actions against those elements of the PLO that commit terrorist acts. I do not want to close off this path to possible peace in the Middle East.'
I am afraid we have turned the corner and crossed the bridge, that the PLO has now done something that really goes beyond what is acceptable even by people who are hopeful and optimistic in trying every possible step we can take to move toward more trust and peace in the Middle East.
The May 30 raid, as Senator Lautenberg described, was a calculated effort to kill civilians, conceived at least 6 months ago, prepared in Libya under the sponsorship of that great patron of terrorism, Colonel Qadhafi, and then carried out, aimed at families, men, women, and children on the beaches.
Think about how we would feel if somebody attempted terrorist raids against our people, Americans on a beach in Florida or California, or Cape Cod. We would be horrified. We would want to find a way to strike back militarily. We certainly would not be talking to the people who carried out that raid because talks imply respect and trust.
So I think we have come to a point where we have to say to Mr. Arafat--and this resolution says it--either you are the leader of the PLO or you are not. If you are, you must demonstrate leadership and you must prove you have control by condemning those factions of your organization that continue to use terrorism in pursuit of their objectives. If you are not the leader of the PLO, if you are just a figurehead, you do not really control what happens, Mr. Arafat, and we have no business talking with you in any case because you cannot deliver, because you are not the person who can help bring peace to the Middle east.
Senator Lautenberg talked about the reaction of the Israel population and Government. I think anybody who looks at
the Middle East will say this is not a conflict which will end with one swift stroke. The hatred, the suspicion among the people there, is too deep. What is going to be required for peace ultimately are steps that develop trust.
The dialog was a way to do that. A terrorist raid against civilian population on the beaches of Tel Aviv is the way to destroy almost all hope of trust within Israel, is the way not just to support the more allegedly rightwing element of raising public opinion but to destroy the hope, the optimism, the faith that is in so many other Israelis more than a majority in polls I have seen and want to believe that peace with the Palestinians are possible. But how can they believe that when their families are targets of terrorism on a religious holiday on a beach in Israel?
Mr. President, it is time to suspend the dialog and I regret it but it is time to suspend the dialog not because a promise made at Geneva was broken, not just because we should do it to genuinely support the peace process and our allies in the Middle East particularly Israel and Egypt but because it is fundamental to what America stands for. It is fundamental to the threats to our security.
I said it before, and I will say it again: the United States does not negotiate with terrorists. Therefore, we should not be having a dialog with the PLO in Tunis until the PLO demonstrates to us that they are not terrorists.
Mr. President, in the aftermath of all the changes in Eastern Europe everyone is telling us, and I think correctly so, that the greatest threats to the security of American people in the years ahead are not going to come from the Soviet Union but probably from unstable Third World nations and from terrorists.
If we turn away, turn our back on this clear case of terrorism, if we do not respond in some way, we are sending a message that we do not really care, that we are prepared to allow terrorist acts to be planned and carried out, and just to continue business as usual.
I know we do not want to do that. We do not want to do that in the interest of the security of the American people, because the reality is that more Americans have died at the hands of terrorists in the last several years than at the hands of any other foreign enemy we face.
The Pan Am flight 103 is the most dramatic example. Another one clearly is the terrorist attack on the Marine Barracks in Beirut, and finally the attack on the Achille Lauro, masterminded by Abu Abbas, Palestine Liberation Front, the same group that claims credit for the May 30 raid on Tel Aviv which resulted in killing Israeli people as was in the case of the Achille Lauro which resulted in the death of an American citizen.
If history teaches us anything, it clearly teaches us that when we are timid in the face of violence, when we refuse to respond to those who break the norms of civilized society, when we refuse to speak out and perhaps strike back against those who commit acts of violence, and destroy the international order, then we ultimately pay a far greater price. That is all that is at stake and it is a lot in the introduction of this resolution.
I hope that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider it quickly and report it out to us, and I hope that the full Senate will adopt it as an expression of our strong belief, in sadness, that the administration has no course other than to suspend these dialogs. I stress what we are asking for here is suspension and not termination, and I fervently hope that we will before long have justification based on the statements and answers of Yasser Arafat and the PLO, and based upon the peaceful actions of Palestinians generally to once more renew the dialog and begin to walk together down the road hopefully to peace in the Middle East.
Mr. President, I thank you for your patience in hearing these remarks and I yield the floor.
Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, as a country committed to fighting terrorism, we should find no difficulty in formulating a response to the PLO attack on the beaches of Tel Aviv. Our response should be swift and unequivocal: The PLO has violated its commitment to renounce terrorism, the condition for establishing a U.S.-PLO dialog has been broken, and accordingly the dialog must end. Consistency and credibility demand no less from us.
Two weeks have passed and Arafat has not condemned the act. Since the incident, we waited for the right moment to halt the dialog. The President has given Arafat ample time to condemn the attack. But, civilized and rational people do not need 2 weeks to express their outrage at terrorism. Civilized and rational people do not need extra time to determine whether to condemn a mission aimed at slaughtering innocent people.
For those who were reluctant to link the PLO with the many terrorists attacks that have occurred since Yassir Arafat's December 1988 declaration, the proof could not be more conclusive in the most recent terrorist attack on the beaches of Tel Aviv.
Abul Abbas was the mastermind of this attack. Those who know his name will recall that he was also the architect of the Achille Lauro hijacking and the convicted murderer of American Leon Klinghoffer.
Abbas is also a member of the PLO executive committee who enjoys an office at PLO headquarters in Tunis. The executive committee serves as the PLO's cabinet. There is no doubt, no argument that Abbas is a member of Arafat's PLO; he is an officer in Arafat's PLO. And there is no doubt, no argument that it is Arafat's responsibility to condemn, expel, and turn over Abbas.
This most recent attack comes in the midst of the March 19 State Department report declaring that the PLO has lived up to its commitments to renounce terrorism. This declaration was made even though the State Department acknowledged that constituent groups of the PLO had been implicated in many terrorist incidents, but no linkage could be made between Arafat's PLO and the PLO's constituent groups.
At that time, I expressed disagreement and disappointment with the State Department's assessment.
From the start of the U.S. dialog with the PLO, the United States vowed that the dialog would stop if PLO terrorism continued. As recent as 2 weeks ago, the State Department repeated this vow. Though I believe there is substantial evidence indicating that PLO terrorism has flourished since 1988, this latest attack should be enough evidence for even the most skeptical.
We owe to the Americans killed by PLO terrorists not to sit down at the table with a PLO that has not refrained from terrorism. We owe it to the peace process to seek nothing less than a steadfast course in our fight against terrorism.
The time is now to send a strong signal against terrorism by suspending talks with the PLO until Arafat by word and by deed acts upon his declaration of December 1988.