Ford Backs off on His Former Proposal That the U.S. Move Its Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

President Gerald Ford backed away today from his 1972 proposal that the United States move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem where 17 other nations now locate their ambassadors. At his first news conference since taking office Aug. 9, the President responded to a question about his proposal of two years ago by saying, “Under the current circumstances and the importance of getting a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, that particular proposal ought to stand aside.”

Ford added, “We must come up with some answers between Israel and the Arab nations in order to achieve a peace that is both fair and durable.” That remark and his reversal of his suggestion to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem were the President’s only references to the Middle East conflict today.

As Republican Minority Leader on March 17, 1972, the then Congressman of Michigan told a Zionist Organization of America regional meeting in Cleveland that the Nixon Administration should transfer the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. His suggestion, however, was opposed by President Nixon and the then Secretary of State William P. Rogers. Rep. John J. Rhodes (R.Ariz.). chairman of the Republican Platform Committee that election year, decided against including Ford’s proposal in the 1972 Republican platform. The Democratic Party, however, seized on Ford’s idea and incorporated it into their 1972 platform.

Ford, in his press conference today which focussed on the nation’s economic problems, praised Herbert Stein of Detroit, the outgoing chairman of his Council of Economic Advisors and said that his successor, Alan Greenspan of New York, “will do an excellent job.” Green-span has been on the Council for the past two days. Stein is returning to the University of Virginia.

White House Press Secretary Jerald ter-Horst announced yesterday that Leonard Garment, who was White House counsel to former President Nixon and a special assistant on minorities, will continue at the White House during the present transition period. TerHorst also announced yesterday that Ford met briefly with Max Fisher of Detroit, on Monday. He said the two men discussed ways of combating inflation in this country and Fisher’s visit to Israel where he will participate next week in the meeting of the full Jewish Agency Executive. Ford, according to terHorst, asked Fisher to convey his greetings to their mutual friends in Israel. Fisher is the chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors.

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