Reagan Explains U.S. Recognition of PLO to Shamir

(December 22, 1988)


This message was in reply to Mr. Shamir's letter of 13 December 1988 in which he expressed Israel's indignation at the decision of the United States to enter into a dialogue with the PLO. The president explained the reasons for the American move and assured the prime minister that there will be no weakening in the American "commitment to Israel's security. " He hoped that this move would potentially encourage greater "realism and pragmatism within the Palestinian leadership and thus contribute to a comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. " The next day Foreign Minister Arens expressed the fear that the U.S. move would lead to greater extremism and violence. Text:


In your letter of 13 December, you expressed your deep concern about the repercussions of a United States decision to begin a dialogue with the PLO. I would like to add my personal assurances to those already made to you by Secretary [George] Shultz, that nothing in this decision should be construed as weakening the United States' commitment to Israel's security, diminishing our fight against terrorism in all its forms, or indicating our acceptance of an independent Palestinian state.

I am under no illusions about the PLO. Their words will have to be supported by actions, namely a continuing renunciation of terrorism everywhere and disassociation from those who perpetrate it. Nevertheless, I believe that our dialogue with the PLO potentially can encourage realism and pragmatism within the Palestinian leadership and thus contribute to a comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in which the long-term security of Israel can be achieved.

Building on our friendship and strengthening the close ties that bind us have been among my proudest achievements as president. I understand you are about to form a new government for which I congratulate you. I am confident that through our joint efforts nothing can destroy the mutual trust, confidence and commitment we have built, and that the next U.S. administration will move quickly to work with your government toward our mutual goals.