KANSAS CITY (Aug. 16)
The intensely rival Ford and Reagan forces at this hectic Republican National Convention which opened to day, are united in their outlook on the Middle East. Together they have drafted a pro-Israel plank for their party’s platform in the coming Presidential campaign that ranks among the strongest written by a major American political organization since the birth of the Jewish State 28 years ago.
No opposition, except possibly from an individual or two, is expected to this plank when the platform, drafted here after a week’s labor by a committee of 108 members, is presented for adoption to the convention’s 2259 delegates tomorrow night.
Representatives of President Ford’s and former California Gov. Ronald Reagan’s forces have indicated satisfaction to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency with the 500-word Middle East section that declared: “Our policy must remain one of decisive support for the security and integrity of Israel.”
FUNDAMENTAL, ENDURING COMMITMENT
Continuing, the plank states: “An equally important component of our commitment to Israel lies in continuing our efforts to secure a just and durable peace for all nations in that complex region. Peace in the Middle East now requires face-to-face direct negotiations between the states involved with the recognition of safe, secure and defensible borders for Israel.”
OIL EMBARGO SCORED
Scoring the Arab oil embargo that came with the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the plank declares that “the United States would view any attempt to reimpose an embargo as an essentially hostile act.” About the Arab boycott of Israel and American companies that trade with Israel or have Jews in high administrative or ownership capacities, the platform says that the Republican Party “will oppose discriminatory practices, including boycotts of any type.”
The Mideast plank credits Republican administrations with having “succeeded in reestablishing communications with the Arab countries” and having made “extensive progress in our diplomatic and commercial relations with the more moderate Arab nations.”
An implied warning is given to the Soviet Union in the phrasing, that because of America’s fundamental interests in the Middle East, the Republicans would “continue our efforts to maintain the balance of power in the Mediterranean region” and not permit “any attempt to disturb valued alliance relationships in the Eastern Mediterranean.” It says the GOP would continue to support peace initiatives in Lebanon and provide humanitarian assistance there.
PLANK LANGUAGE CHANGED
The plank makes no mention of Palestinians or refugees. A possibly subtle effort in this direction was wiped out in the discussions of the plank by the full committee last week when Sen. Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, the Republican leader in the Senate, demanded changes of language in two places from “all parties” to “all nations” and “between the parties” to “between the states” involved. “We do not want to be interpreted as negotiating with the PLO and Yasir Arafat,” Scott declared. “We do not want to negotiate with parties but with nations.”
Scott, who is retiring from the Senate at the end of the year, said the word “parties” instead of nations in Middle East terminology “is highly offensive to American Jews.” When Scott was questioned within the committee about his change, he declared that he wanted the word “nation so that it would be very clear we do not mean the PLO.” Scott has been in favor of Israel since his first term in the House 30 years ago from a Philadelphia district that had few Jewish residents.
Scott, Rep. Millicent Fenwick of New Jersey and Richard Rosenbaum, chairman of the New York State Republican Party, were credited with being the chief movers for the language in the Middle East plank in the subcommittee led by Sen. Roman Hruska of Nebraska.
ENTEBBE RESCUE APPLAUDED
In another section, the platform calls for a fight on terrorism, both domestic and international. “Collective action must come from all nations,” the draft says in urging sanctions against countries that aid terrorists. The draft says “We applaud the daring rescue by Israel of innocent civilian hostages who were kidnapped by terrorists.” While regretting the loss of lives involved, the platform continues, “the courageous manner in which the hostages were freed speaks eloquently to our abhorrence of world bandits.” There is no mention in the plank about moving the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.