WASHINGTON — In a further sign that opponents of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's peace policies have an ear on Capitol Hill, the president of the Zionist Organization of America secured a coveted meeting with the House of Representatives' freshman class Tuesday of last week.
Morton Klein, ZOA's national president, used the session to urge members to end direct American financial support of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Klein was one of eight speakers at the weekly gathering of the 73 Republican freshmen. Congressional aides who attended the session estimated that more than 12 members of Congress were present when Klein spoke.
Rep. Jon Fox (R-Pa.) invited Klein to speak at the session, which was attended by an additional 20 to 30 congressional aides.
Klein said he used his five-minute speech to detail what is required of the PLO, told the members that it has not complied with its agreements with Israel and asked them to support a bill on the subject introduced this week by Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.).
D'Amato's bill proposes cutting off all direct aid to the PLO and the Palestinian Authority. Under his proposal, Palestinian institutions in the West Bank and Gaza could receive money only if the PLO fully complies with the peace accords.
D'Amato's bill comes as Congress considers the renewal of legislation that would enable continuing financial assistance to the PLO. D'Amato's proposal is not expected to gain much support in Congress.
The meeting marks the second time Klein has pulled off a coup on Capitol Hill to meet with freshmen members of Congress.
In January, Klein and Frank Gaffney, director of the Center for Security Policy, briefed the Senate's freshmen, urging them to oppose stationing U.S. troops on the Golan Heights as part of a possible Israeli-Syrian peace deal. Five senators attended that meeting.
Officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby, were unaware that Klein spoke to the freshman class.
Last year, after a bitter fight erupted between AIPAC and the ZOA during the congressional foreign aid debate, Klein agreed to "coordinate and consult" with AIPAC on any visits to Capitol Hill.
AIPAC had accused Klein of putting the foreign aid bill in jeopardy when he lobbied members in what they termed an unprofessional way. Klein denied the charges and maintained his right to lobby members of Congress.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations brokered a truce between ZOA and AIPAC, which had requested disciplinary action against Klein.
The Conference of Presidents said AIPAC is the sole lobbying arm of the Jewish community and that all Conference members must coordinate a activities with the pro-Israel lobby.