(Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend remarks.)
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, it is a critical time in the ongoing search for a lasting peace in the Middle East. An article in today's Washington Post, `Israel Accuses PLO of Continuing Terrorism,' states that the United States has agreed that there is evidence that Arafat's group itself is responsible for the latest terrorist raid which is a clear violation of U.S. conditions to sustain the dialog.
It was over a year ago that the United States is said to have begun substantive dialog with the PLO because Arafat articulated certain formulations demanded by the United States for 13 years. Despite the dialog, terrorists acts undertaken by the PLO and its member groups continue to pose obstacles to the peace process.
The clock is ticking. We anxiously await the report of State Department's report of the PLO Commitments Compliance Act of 1989. The threats to Israel's sovereignty are not deferred by our bureaucratic deadlines.
Jerusalem, Feb. 20--As efforts to arrange Israeli-Palestinian negotiations reach a crucial phase, the United States and Israel are at odds over what the government here says have been clear violations by the Palestine Liberation Organization of its 1988 pledge to give up terrorism.
Despite repeated protests by Israel, the United States has conducted a dialogue with the PLO over the last 14 months and tacitly conceded the organization an indirect role in the current Middle East peace process. In theory, Washington has strictly conditioned the connection on adherence by the PLO to Chairman Yasser Arafat's November 1988 declaration recognizing Israel and renouncing acts of terror against civilian targets.
Israeli officials, however, have been arguing to the Bush administration with increasing vehemence that PLO attacks against Israel have not ceased. Since the beginning of 1989, security officials here say, there have been at least six attempts to penetrate Israel's northern border by guerrillas associated with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a leftist faction within the PLO. The most recent was late last month by a group apparently aiming to attack a kibbutz in northern Israel.
Moreover, senior Israeli officials say they have presented the United States with evidence that Arafat's own Fatah movement launched a raid from Egypt into Israel's Negev desert on Dec. 5. A heavily armed group of five guerrillas crossed the border that night, but were killed by Israeli army troops before they could carry out any attacks.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin told a closed session of Israel's parliament recently that `there is no argument between our military and [U.S.] military about the facts' of the alleged Fatah raid. The United States, he said, agreed that the evidence showed Arafat's group was responsible.
Sources here said that the Bush administration had raised the Negev raid with the PLO leadership in Tunis, and that U.S. officials believed the attack had occurred without Arafat's knowledge or authorization. U.S. officials, the sources added, maintain that Israel has not offered Washington any conclusive evidence connecting Fatah to the attack.
Nevertheless, Israeli officials argue that the United States is ignoring its own policy by keeping the incident quiet and by failing to insist that the PLO denounce the attacks and expel members responsible for them.
According to the `talking points' conveyed by the United States to the PLO at their first official meeting in Tunis in December 1988, no American administration would continue the dialogue if terrorism continued `by the PLO or any of its factions,' Moreover, Washington stipulated that in the event of a Palestinian act of terrorism, Tunis would be expected to `not only condemn this action publicly but also discipline those responsible for it.'
`Not only has the PLO failed to fulfill these requirements, but Arafat's own Fatah organization, in particular, has itself engaged in terrorist acts,' said a report recently prepared by the office of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and delivered to U.S. Ambassador William Brown. `It has encouraged and lauded these attacks even in the midst of the dialogue.'
The issue has become particularly sensitive in the wake of a terrorist attack this month on a tour bus outside Cairo in which nine Israelis died. Although the PLO is not suspected of involvement in the incident, it failed to condemn it.
Israel is also pressing the United States about the various commando attacks because the PLO's present role as a silent partner in the peace process is a major irritant to Shamir and the leadership of his right-wing Likud Party.
In the latest incident, an Israel army patrol came under attack Jan. 26 near Taibeh in southern Lebanon from at least three fighters from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a pro-Syrian faction of the PLO.
The PLO has frequently said that its abandonment of `terrorism' does not include ending attacks on Israeli military targets such as the patrols in Lebanon, and the United States has tacitly accepted this statement.'
Israeli security sources say the group at Taibeh was carrying a map of approaches to the Misgav Am kibbutz in Israel, and wire cutters to penetrate the kibbutz's security fence. Moreover, Israeli reports said, a spokesman of the Democratic Front announced publicly after the attack that the group was headed for Misgav Am.