As the author of the amendment banning negotiations between U.S. officials and Palestine Liberation Organization representatives, I respond to Philip Geyelin's column, "Presidential 'Flexibility' and the PLO" (May 8).
The United States has appropriately drawn a clear line between the PLO, dedicated to terrorism and Israel's destruction, and the vast majority of Palestinians, whose goal is peace and to live productive and secure lives. It is the declared U.S. position that it will not recognize or negotiate with the PLO as long as that organization does not recognize Israel's right to exist, does not accept U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and does not renounce the use of terrorism.
I introduced my amendment in response to reports last year that an intermediary of the Reagan administration had conducted 50 secret meetings for a total of more than 400 hours with Yasser Arafat, the head of the PLO.
Exactly because the U.S. policy toward the PLO has been singled out as a pressure point by those who see it as an alternative to direct Jordanian negotiations with Israel, it was essential to send a very clear message that this is a dead end and that the only path to peace is direct negotiations. It was vital to send a signal to the other Arabs that, instead of wasting their assets on the PLO, the only sound investment is to support a move by King Hussein to sit down with Israel.
Although Geyelin is correct that my amendment reaffirms a policy first articulated by Henry Kissinger, he is not correct that the language was "surreptitiously tacked on to what is known as a 'continuing resolution' last October" and that that was the only time the question was put directly to a vote. My amendment was passed unanimously by the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East as part of the 1985 foreign aid bill. It followed the same track in the Senate. It originated and succeeded on open record votes in both the House and Senate subcommittees of jurisdiction. It was neither a poor nor an indirect method of legislating, and there was nothing "surreptitious" about it.