Israelis Pondering the Meaning of Carter’s Presidential Victory
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Israelis Pondering the Meaning of Carter’s Presidential Victory

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President-elect Jimmy Carter is an unknown quantity to most Israelis and they are not sure whether his victory over President Ford yesterday will mean an easier time for Israel on the Middle East diplomatic front or a harder one.

Political analysts here do not doubt that Carter is sincere in the favorable attitude he projected toward Israel during the American election campaign. But they agree that the first clue to future American policy in the Middle East will be the identity of Carter’s Secretary of State and the atmosphere in the State Department under the control of a Democratic Administration. Some observers here are speculating that Carter’s foreign policy advisor, Prof. Zbigniew Brzezinski, may be the successor to Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. (Political pundits in the U.S. are less certain.)

In recent weeks, Brzezinski has addressed Jewish groups in the U.S. and expressed highly pro-Israel views. He said his approach to the Middle East differed from Kissinger’s in that the latter sought an indeterminate goal through step-by-step negotiations while be would define the goal first and approach it by stages. But many Israelis believe that this theory would turn out to be a re-run of the Kissinger diplomacy once put into practice.


Israeli analysts feel, however, that the election of Carter will give Israel a breathing spell before the Middle East diplomatic process is resumed. They reason that Carter will undertake no initiatives until he is firmly ensconced in the White House and has become thoroughly familiar with the Middle East conflict and foreign policy generally. Time gained is to Israel’s advantage, it is felt here, because any headlong rush toward a settlement would mean renewed pressure on Israel to make major concessions.

On the other hand, Carter is taken at his word when he said he wanted to continue the diplomatic momentum in the Middle East and there are no illusions here that momentum means anything but concessions.

Premier Yitzhak Rabin warned recently that no matter which candidate won the American Presidency, 1977 would be a year of confrontation with the U.S. But there is a certain amount of relief here today that Kissinger’s shuttle diplomacy is a thing of the past.

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