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Adminisration's Proposal to Sell Arms to Jordan

October 19, 1985

I take exception to The Times' editorial (Oct. 4), "Jordan Arms Sale Proposal," favoring the Reagan Administration's proposal to sell $1.9 billion in advanced arms to Jordan without, as The Times writes, "concrete evidence of Jordan's involvement in the peace process . . ."

In deciding the arms sales question, Congress must indeed consider what is in the national interest of the United States. However, it is difficult to see how further arming Jordan, without their first committing themselves to direct negotiations with Israel, will enhance U.S. interests. Clearly, a stable, peaceful Middle East is in U.S. national interest. However, we have already seen that we cannot buy peace with arms sales.

Saudi Arabia is a good example. In 1981 Congress agreed to sell advanced weapons to that country in part because Congress had been assured by the Administration that Saudi Arabia would provide "substantial assistance" to the United States in promoting Middle East peace. Unfortunately, not only has Saudi Arabia done nothing to fulfill that assurance, but it has thrown obstacles in the path to peace.

Two discrete but related points need to be made with respect to arms sales, the peace process and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. First, one of the stipulations Congress has imposed on arms sales to Jordan is that Jordan must commit itself to direct negotiations with Israel. Second, it is the declared U.S. position, outlined in a successful amendment I authored to the fiscal years 1986-1987 foreign aid bill, that the United States will not recognize or negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization as long as it 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.

The PLO has taken none of these steps because it is a terrorist organization. Its covenant calls for the destruction of Israel. In recent months it has escalated its terrorist activity against Israel. To label it "moderate," as some have, gives an entirely new meaning to that word.

Yet King Hussein insists on including the PLO in negotiations. By trying to bring in a third party like the PLO, which has no real interest in peace, and whose sole objective is U.S. recognition, King Hussein has deviated from the important principle of direct negotiations with Israel so essential to peace.

The United States must make it perfectly clear to King Hussein that it will support his efforts to enter direct negotiations with Israel. It must make it equally clear that it will not support his efforts to seek U.S. recognition of the PLO. Nor will it support including the PLO in negotiations or conducting negotiations through an international conference, something King Hussein has been advocating as an alternative to avoid direct negotiations with Israel.

MEL LEVINE

Member of Congress

37th District

Santa Monica

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