UNITED NATIONS. JOHN MROZ: THE FIRST SECRET ATTEMPTS AT A U.S./PLO DIALOGUE

 

15 SEPTEMBER 2014

JOHN MROZ: THE FIRST SECRET ATTEMPTS AT A U.S./PLO DIALOGUE

JOHN MROZ : The First Secret Attempts at a US/PLO Dialogue

It is not widely known that while Chairman Arafat was in Beirut in 1981, a secret back-channel of communication was set up between the United States and PLO leadership.

Under the guise of the "International Institute for Peace" based in New York, a young American of Polish descent, John Mroz, opened contact at that time with the knowledge, if not the authorisation, of Secretary of State Alexander Haig.

Mr. Mroz spent weeks in Beirut, then travelled to Washington D.C and back in the hope of getting the PLO to accept resolution 242 and the U.S. to announce contact with the Palestinian Organisation, as a prelude to an official recognition. Most U.S. officials were unaware of that secret back-channel until it was hinted at in The New York Times.

Mroz disappeared for a while to avoid any media contact, then continued his efforts with the knowledge of new Secretary of State George Schultz. Obviously, by then several other countries had opened other channels of communication, but Mroz's initiative remained focused on getting a joint declaration by the summer of 1982. It was around that time that the Israeli army invaded Lebanon, forcing the PLO leadership to leave Beirut. Mr. Mroz then tried to meet Chairman Arafat in Tunis, but Arafat refused to see him.

Mr. Mroz also started the East-West Institute to deal mainly with issues in Eastern Europe, and after the fall of the Soviet Union, held a wider membership with several personalities of its former republics. East-West also expanded to other European areas and beyond to the Middle East, where its work remained limited. Throughout his varied activities he sought U.N. participation in conferences held by the Institute. Although the Institute was by now focused on other issues, Mroz continued to follow developments on Palestine. He and his wife Karen adopted a young Palestinian son.

John Mroz died in Manhattan, New York in August 2014. May his soul rest in peace.