As a member of the Israeli parliament, I would like to dispute the view that U.S. senators and representatives who consider themselves friends of Israel should support the bill known as the "Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987," which is aimed at closing down the PLO offices in the United States.
I believe that achieving peace is a prime requirement for Israel's long-term survival and prosperity. There can be no peace without negotiations between the Israeli government, representing the Israeli people, and the representatives of the Palestinian people. Such representatives can only be chosen by the Palestinians themselves, and on each occasion that the Palestinians were asked for their opinion, they unequivocally expressed their support for the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Together with many of my fellow citizens of Israel, I have been urging the Israeli government to reconsider its policies and to agree to negotiate with the PLO in the context of an international peace conference. Recently this idea has been spreading; not only opposition members such as myself but also Ezer Weizmann, member of the Israeli Cabinet, as well as several Knesset members from the Labor Party, have publicly voiced their support for Israeli negotiations with the PLO.
Passage of the bill closing the PLO offices in the United States would constitute a grave setback for the Middle East peace process. It would mean total abdication by the United States of any role as a mediator in the Middle East conflict. Hard-liners in the Israeli Cabinet would be encouraged to persist in their intransigent position and their refusal to talk with the PLO. Far from "stopping terrorism," as it is supposed to do, this bill would further escalate the cycle of bloodshed and violence in the Middle East. MATTI PELED Jerusalem