Israel remains the most reliable U.S. ally in the world, but it must recognize that the killing of Palestinian civilians in the strife-torn West Bank and Gaza Strip is "clearly unacceptable," Vice President Dan Quayle told an American Jewish group Friday.
The uprising by Palestinians in those regions "has resulted in nearly 400 Palestinians being killed and many more injured," Quayle said in a speech prepared for a conference of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith."Some may say that by the grisly standards of some of Israel's neighbors a few hundred people killed in the course of a yearlong uprising is not a very staggering figure," he said.
But, he added, Israel should be judged not by those standards but "on the basis of standards which prevail in the democratic West. And on the basis of these standards the status quo on the West Bank and Gaza Strip is clearly unacceptable."
On the other hand, Quayle said, the recent first-ever talks between representatives of the United States and the Palestine Liberation Organization do not indicate any fundamental change in attitude toward the PLO or its leader, Yasser Arafat.
He reiterated the cautionary stance taken by Reagan administration officials who began the dialogue in the last days before President Bush took office.
"Simple prudence obliges us to monitor Mr. Arafat and his organization very carefully, and to probe his words very closely before arriving at a final determination," Quayle said.
He added that while Arafat has recognized the state of Israel and renounced terrorism, factions within the PLO hold opposing viewpoints.
The vice president's trip to Florida also included a scheduled dinner speech to the Cuban-American Bar Association.