Yasser Arafat today said the Palestine Liberation Organization accepts Israel's right to exist and condemns all forms of terrorism.
But the PLO leader told a press conference that a two-page declaration he drafted with a group of American Jews "is nothing new" in that the Palestine National Council, the PLO's parliament-in-exile, had effectively recognized Israel last month.
"The PNC accepted two states, a Palestinian state and a Jewish state, Israel. Is that clear enough?" Arafat said.
He repeatedly avoided answering questions on whether PLO attacks against Israel were terrorism, but said resistance against occupation was legitimate under the U.N. Charter.
Resisting With Stones
"People facing oppression have the right to exist by all means. There, our people are resisting with stones." The year-old uprising by Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip will continue, he said.
Arafat called the joint statement an important document. "It is an accurate reading and interpretation of our PNC resolutions," he said.
Swedish Foreign Minister Sten Andersson announced the declaration, saying it was intended to elaborate on the PLO's acceptance in November of two U.N. resolutions that implicitly recognize Israel.
Today's declaration mentioned U.N. resolutions 242 and 338 as the basis for an international Middle East peace conference, in which the PLO wants to participate.
The five-member Jewish delegation hailed the document as "an important step forward in the peace process" which removed the ambiguities from the PLO council's declaration last month in Algiers.
"With this clarification of what were ambiguities in the Algiers document, we hope fervently that the United States will open a dialogue with the PLO," said Rita Hauser of the International Center for Peace in the Middle East, a research body chaired by former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban. The Jewish delegates are members of the center.
Washington has made recognition of Israel and renunciation of terrorism conditions for dealing with the PLO.
No Comment by Reagan
President Reagan, asked about today's declaration as he was leaving the White House for New York, said: "We haven't had time to review what it is that he (Arafat) said there specifically."