Arab-Americans Press US to Condemn Israel for West Bank Violence
Dec. 13, 1986
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Arab-American leaders met with Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead on Friday to press for a U.S. statement condemning Israel for the deaths of four Palestinian students on the occupied West Bank.
Abdeen Jabara, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, complained that administration statements on the matter have deplored the violence, but failed to assign blame to Israeli authorities.
''It's an effort to make the victim and the victimized share equally the guilt for the suffering of the victim,'' Jabara told a news conference.
State Department spokesman Bruce Ammerman said the administration is ''increasingly concerned about the continuing violence and the further loss of life and injuries that have occurred.''
But, he added, ''Both the Israeli authorities and the Palestinians have a heavy responsibility for preventing a recurrence of these tragic events. ... We urge both sides to exercise greater restraint and to avoid further actions that would threaten further disorder to cause additional loss of life.''
Ammerman said U.S. concern has been relayed to the Israeli government, but he declined to say in what manner.
Jabara said the Arab-American leaders urged that pressure on Israel be applied publicly and told Whitehead that ''mere strong statements that are conducted through silent diplomacy with the Israelis will not be sufficient.''
Whitehead, the second-ranking official in the department, was also pressed on the U.S. abstention Monday on a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the violence. Ammerman said the United States ''could not support the resolution because we found it unbalanced.''
Four Palestinians have been killed and more than 33 injured during a week of clashes in the territories Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war.
The violence was triggered after two students were shot to death on Dec. 4 during a clash between students and Israeli soldiers at a Bir Zeit University demonstration. The students were protesting Israeli security measures, including roadblocks at the school.
On Thursday, more than 150 Palestinian students held a peaceful rally at the university, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, to protest the closing of the campus.
The hour-long meeting with Whitehead was arranged by the Council of Presidents of National Arab-American Organizations and included representatives of Jabara's group; the Arab Women's Council; the American Druze Society; the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine; the Association of Arab-American University Graduates; the El-Bireh Society; the National Association of Arab Americans; the United Holy Land Fund, and the United Palestinian Appeal.
Jabara said Whitehead was the highest-ranking U.S. official ever to meet with council representatives.
A smaller group of Arab-American leaders met briefly Thursday with Rep. Lee Hamilton, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East. Jabara said Hamilton made no specific commitments, but did promise to press the State Department to be more attentive to the group's views.