Behind the Headlines Carter, Jerusalem and Propaganda
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Behind the Headlines Carter, Jerusalem and Propaganda

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President elect Jimmy Carter’s reiteration that he is “not committed” to moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was seen here today as being significant in the context in which it was made and in its timing.

Carter was asked the question at a news conference yesterday in Plains, Georgia, and his reply essentially was the same he had made during the election campaign–that he does not agree with the Democratic Party’s platform advocating the move but that he has reserved his decision until after he becomes President.

Why the question was raised again at his news conference on a subject on which he himself said has been recorded several times was puzzling to some here. He was not asked about Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s latest statements about the U.S. being “obligated” to provide him with weapons and his “peace” promise for Israel while he was simultaneously spearheading the anti-Israel “consensus” statement in the UN Security Council with which the Ford Administration agreed, to the anger and disappointment of pro-Israelis.

Thus, the question on Jerusalem may have been designed to elicit the expected Carter response which, taken together with the “consensus” action is seen as attempts by Americans to encourage the Arab nations that both Carter and the outgoing Ford Administration are not as pro-Israeli as their campaign statements made them out to be.

PART OF A PRESSURE PATTERN

The question thrust at Carter is seen as part of a pattern by commentators and others advocating that Carter move quickly towards pressuring Israel to make concessions on the lines of the Fulbright or the Rogers plans–both anathema to Israel–in an attempt to obfuscate Carter’s expressed pro-Israel views with the hope of establishing a climate that will alter his position by the time he begins his Presidential purview of the Middle East.

During Carter’s press conference yesterday a reporter asked him: “On page 56 of the Democratic platform there is a statement, ‘The U.S. Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.’ How long after you become President would you fulfill this contract…?”

Carter responded: “I have never said that I would fulfill that contract. When the Democratic convention was over, on several occasions I used that as one example of a part of the Democratic platform with which I did not agree. And I have said many times–several times, not many–in public that I would reserve that decision until after I become President. But I understand that it is in the Democratic platform; but there are several instances in the platform of commitments that I don’t share. I may or may not want to move the Embassy to Jerusalem, but I’m not committed to do that at this point.”

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