WASHINGTON (Feb. 24)
Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance today rejected suggestions in the Senate that the United States set forth its own plan for an Arab-Israeli settlement. He said that such action is “too early” and that a previous attempt was “counter-productive.”
The Secretary also said that he believes Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in view of his victory over Defense Minister Shimon Peres, and the latter’s call for amity within the Israeli Labor Party, will be able to “negotiate for his country” in the coming discussions for a settlement.
Vance made his statement in response to a question from members of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Aid after he had submitted a statement justifying his “new directions” assistance program for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.
He did not give figures for any country, but chairman Daniel Inouye (D. Hawaii) said the aid program totaled $7.5 billion and that an additional $2 billion during the course of the year would bring the amount close to $10 billion. U.S. assistance to international development banks has more than doubled. Israel is known to be ticketed for $1.785 billion. Of this, $1 billion is for military assistance.
When Inouye asked whether more funds would be appropriated during the year for Israel, Vance sharply replied he thought the sum budgeted is “adequate” and no more would be forthcoming unless the President proposed it.
Vance outlined the foreign aid budget by groupings and noted in bilateral programming that no funds are asked by the Carter Administration for this coming year on the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Fund. The sum of $30 million was budgeted by the Ford Administration for the current fiscal year.
RABIN’S VICTORY SHORES CONFIDENCE
Vance’s remark about Rabin came after Sen. Bennett Johnston (D.La.) noted Rabin’s hairline victory over Peres yesterday for the Labor Party’s nomination and asked whether that will “hurt Rabin’s ability to negotiate for his own people.” Vance replied that it “probably is not for me to speculate but I would point out that Peres immediately after the election gave a speech in which he called for amity.” Vance added that “it looks like the party will draw together and go into the election as a unified party. It will be wrong to assume Rabin won’t be able to negotiate for his country. I believe he could.”
Johnston pressed for a U.S. plan this year and referred to the ill-fated Rogers Plan proposed by the former Secretary of State William Rogers in Dec. 1969, “or some other U.S. plan to try to bring the parties together to make peace in 1977.” Vance replied “It would be a mistake at this point to come up with a U.S. plan and say this is it and you have to take it.”
He agreed with Johnston that the step-by-step policy is not to be followed and that an overall peace settlement should be sought. But he emphasized that he opposed “at this early date to lay out a plan.” Under Johnston’s questioning. Vance also said that it would “be a mistake to force the process at this early stage.”
Vance said that Israel’s position with respect to the administered territories is that “this is a subject for discussion in negotiations between Israel and her Arab neighbors” and Israel “underscores” that withdrawal was to be “to defensible and secure boundaries.” He pointed out that Israel has not specified “precisely” about the boundaries. Asked whether the Arabs accept Israel’s sovereignty. Vance said, “I believe that is the case which is encompassed in a definition of peace.”