US REFUSES VISA TO ARAFAT – 27/11/1988

[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 148

NOVEMBER 27 1988

”What more do you want me to do? A streaptease?”

Yasser Arafat, Nov. 1988

Today (27/11/1988), the Reagan Administration announced that it would not permit Yasser Arafat to enter the United States to make a speech at the United Nations.

The chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization wanted to address the General Assembly on Dec. 1 during a scheduled debate on the Palestinian question.

According to some observers the United States is not supposed, under the conditions of the 1947 UN Charter, to impose impediments to transit of people invited to the United Nations on official business.

”The refusal to grant a visa to Arafat was an outright violation of the American obligation to the United Nations,” said a spokesman for the PLO in Tunis.

”The decision is a most unfortunate development,” lamented Clovis Maksoud, the Arab League representative in the United States

”It embarrasses Arab friends of the United States. It tends to justify those who had always suspected US biases. It tends to make moderation costly,” Maksoud added.

”The decision sets back the Middle East peace process and is a slap in the face not only to Palestinians, but also to moderate Arabs like King Hussein of Jordan, President Mubarak of Egypt and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia,” said an Arab Ambassador to the United States

However, State Department officials maintain that the United States has always ”reserved the right to bar the entry of those who represent a threat to our security.”

In order to issue a US visa to people identified as terrorists, the Secretary of State must first recommend a waiver of the law. According to the State Department, has decided not to issue such waiver. His decision was promptly praised by Israeli diplomats and American Jewish organizations.

There can be little doubt that Schultz made his decision under much pressure and against the advice of Middle East experts and top officials of the US administration.

Earlier this month, 51 Senators, including Vice President-elect Dan Quayle of Indiana, have sent a letter to Shultz urging him not to issue the waiver.

Last Friday, Shultz met with Lieut. Gen. Colin L. Powell to discuss Mr. Arafat’s application. According to a top State Department official, Shultz and General Powell, President Reagan’s national security adviser, were deeply at odd on this issue. General Powell’s position was not however revealed in detail.

Officials at the State Department and the White House said they did not know what role President Reagan and Vice President Bush played in the decision.

”The President is aware of the decision,” a White House official said.

But the official would not comment on whether Reagan had been asked to intervene to resolve conflicting views in his Administration.

”As he has often said, the Vice President is not going to interject himself. He will not be President before Jan. 20th,” said Stephen Hart, a spokesman for Bush.

On Nov. 12, Mr. Arafat urged Bush to adopt ”a new policy, not a policy aligned with Israel.” The idea was promptly dismissed by senior aides to Bush. Instead, they forcefully reaffirmed the importance of Washington’s strategic partnership with Israel.

Earlier this month, the Palestine National Council, the the PLO’s parliament in exile, endorsed United Nations resolutions that moved toward renouncing violence and implicitly recognizing Israel’s right to exist. But today, State Department officials said those steps did not go far enough.

In European capitals, dissenting voives were heard. Even the most loyal ally of President Reagan expressed her disagreement.

‘”I saw signs of hope in the Palestinians’ qualified acceptance of two United Nations resolutions on the Middle East,” Thatcher said.

“If you don’t encourage them when they look as if they are going in the right direction, you won’t get further moves,” the Iron Lady added.

NOTES AND REFERENCES

U.S. DENIES ARAFAT ENTRY FOR SPEECH TO SESSION OF U.N — November 27, 1988

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