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Congress & the Middle East: Senate Letter Concerning U.N. Actions on the PLO

(December 9, 1974)

In December 1974, 71 members of the U.S. Senate signed a letter to President Ford expressing concern over United Nations actions on the The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), calling them a “direct threat to American foreign policy which must be met vigorously and promptly.” The Senators also condemned the UNESCO decisions and called on the U.S. government to “take the lead in organizing our friends and allies to resist political and economic blackmailing in the future.” Text of the letter follows:

Dear Mr. President:

In writing to you about recent developments in the Middle East, we wish to reaffirm the commitment to the survival and integrity of the state of Israel that has been the bipartisan basis of American policy over 26 years and under five administrations.

We believe that the prominence of the Palestine Liberation Organization at the Rabat Conference and at the United Nations General Assembly poses a direct threat to American Foreign policy which must be met vigorously and promptly. Mr. Arafat's own statements from the rostrum of the United Nations strip away any illusions about the values and mentality which dominate the PLO. His espousal of terrorism and his repeated calls for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish homeland must be resolutely opposed by the United States in order to make progress toward a genuine peace in the Middle East.

We are deeply disturbed by the United Nations vote to give recognition to the PLO and by the spectacle of Western cynicism, apathy and disunity. The action of the General Assembly to limit Israel's right to reply is a serious departure from the original principles of the United Nations. Moreover, the decision by UNESCO to withhold assistance to Israel is a shameful example of the transformation of that international humanitarian organization into a political weapon.

These recent events dramatize the need for the United States to take the lead in organizing our friends and allies to resist political and economic blackmail in the future. We do not believe that a policy of appeasement will be any more successful now than it proved to be in Europe in the 1930's because we confront an appetite which grows on what it is fed.

We therefore urge you to initiate a comprehensive and coordinated diplomatic response that will unite our friends and allies in meeting these new challenges to peace in the Middle East.

We urge that you reiterate our nation's long-standing commitment to Israel's security by a policy of continued military supplies and diplomatic and economic support. In doing so, you will be acting in the best interests of the United States and with the support of the Congress and the American people.

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry