Carter Says U.S. Should Give Strong Commitment to Israel

Jimmy Carter said here last night that “public statements by leaders of our country in the last few months” cast doubt on America’s commitment to Israel’s right “to exist in peace as a Jewish State” and that commitment should be unequivocally reasserted. The former governor of Georgia who is expected to be nominated for President by the Democratic Party convention here next month, made his remarks during a question and answer period following an address he delivered before the Foreign Policy Association. He said he favored a “general” rather than a “step-by-step” approach to a Middle East settlement.

Carter did not refer to the Middle East in his speech nor did he specify what public statements by American leaders might have cast doubt on the U.S. commitment to Israel. But he made it clear that in his own view a solution of the Middle East conflict must be reached by direct negotiations between Israel and the Arabs in the framework of Security Council Resolution 242 and based on the Arabs’ recognition of “the permanent existence of Israel” and their adoption of a policy of non-belligerence toward that country. Carter also said, “I think we should strengthen our commitment to give Israel whatever defense mechanisms or economic aid is necessary to let them meet any potential attack.”

Carter stressed that he would never send American troops to Israel and added “I’ve never met an Israeli who advocated that.”

CARTER: ‘TOO MUCH EQUIVOCATION’

Carter made his statements on the Middle East when he was asked what “new ideas do you have beside the present declared U.S. policy concerning Middle East questions?” He replied: “One of the new commitments that I think should be made is an unequivocal, constant commitment to the world that is well understood by all people that we guarantee the right of Israel to exist in peace as a Jewish state. I think there’s been too much equivocation about that and doubt cast upon that factor by public statements made by leaders of our countries in the last few months. That ought to be one basic change.”

Carter continued: “I believe that we should pursue aggressively the effort as spelled out under United Nations Resolution 242 that the individual countries surrounding Israel should negotiate directly with Israel recognizing two things one, the permanent existence of Israel, and secondly, adopting a position of non-belligerency toward the State of Israel. We, I think, can play a role that’s presently been requested of President Ford by Mr. Rabin (Premier Yitzhak Rabin of Israel) and others of Israel, which I don’t know yet if it’s been pursued or not. I would maintain a strong naval force in the eastern Mediterranean.”

Carter warned against outside intervention in the Middle East. “I would let it be clear to the Soviet Union and others that neither we nor they nor anyone else should prospectively plan an involvement in any Middle Eastern confrontation that includes combat. I think we should strengthen our commitment to give Israel whatever defense mechanisms or economic aid is necessary to let them meet any potential attack.”

Carter said he would also favor, “whenever Israel and the other countries are ready, the pursuit of a general approach to the Middle Eastern question rather than a step-by-step approach. But in the meantime, encourage Jordan, perhaps Syria, Lebanon when their crisis is over, to negotiate with Israel on a mutual basis.” Carter said.

NEXT STORY