WASHINGTON (Mar. 7)
President Carter welcomed Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin today with a minimum of ceremony but with warm words for both Israel and Rabin. The President stressed that the United States was seeking a Middle East peace which would give Israel “defensible borders” while Rabin emphasized Israel’s desire to work for peace.
Following the official welcome, the two leaders held a 90-minute discussion in the White House after which Rabin left for the State Department and discussions with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance.
“This is a different kind of visit,” Carter said in welcoming remarks on the White House lawn to the Premier and Mrs. Rabin. “This is going to be a series of working sessions. Because of the crucial nature of the problems that face the Middle East and the close historic ties between Israel and the United States we decided to minimize the amount of time spent on ceremony.
“We will have a meeting tonight at a banquet, but it will be a working banquet and I believe this is the kind of interrelationship that will demonstrate to the world the seriousness with which we address the problems of the Middle East, our commitment to Israel, our long-standing friendship, our sharing of democratic principles and human liberty and our constant search for peace.”
1977 IS THE YEAR FOR PEACE
Carter pointed out that Vance’s visit to Israel and five other Midwestern countries last month was “to try to explore some common ground for future permanent peace there so that the peace commitments can never be violated and there can be a sense of security about this young country in the future.”
Speaking extemporaneously throughout, Carter said: “1977 is a year that might very well bring a major step forward to an ultimate and permanent peace.” He added that “to a great degree the success of this year’s negotiations and hopes rest on the shoulders of a man (Rabin) who in the past has demonstrated his capability of dealing with complicated problems in a frank and courageous fashion.” He said Rabin “has a vision that is very closely compatible with the visions of the people of the United States.”
ISRAEL’S HIGHEST ASPIRATION IS PEACE
Rabin, in his response, said, “let me emphasize to you Mr. President that I have come from Jerusalem–the city of peace–with a sense of dedication to build a structure of peace between Israel and our neighbors. Peace is our highest aspiration.”
Rabin said that “it is toward this end that Israel commits all its energy, for peace is the essence of the heritage we share and the goal of policy we pursue. It is a heritage as old, as eternal, and as living as the Bible. Everything our peoples stand for–everything we believe in–derives from the Biblical definition of what is right and good. In the words of Solomon in the Book of Proverbs: ‘Righteousness exalts a nation.'”
The Israeli leader declared that “it has been the moral standing of America that induces hope among millions, longing for a better, a more decent and more peaceful world. It is the understanding and support which America has, throughout, displayed for the security and welfare of my own nation that moves me now, to express to you–and through you to the American people–our deepest gratitude.”
Rabin closed with a second reference to Jerusalem, “Knowing that our aspirations and goals are one,” he said, “it is in this very same spirit that I bring to you from Jerusalem our sincere greetings of shalom.”
CARTER LAUDS RABIN
Earlier in his remarks, Carter lauded Rabin and spoke of his political success. He referred to Rabin as the “strategist, tactician and commander” of Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Carter recalled that when he was Governor of Georgia and Rabin was the Israeli Ambassador in Washington, Rabin visited him in Atlanta. “He had political aspirations then, I imagine, in the back of his mind,” the President said. “His success in politics was much more than I achieved.”
The President noted that in a two or three-hour meeting on another occasion, Rabin explained to him the “inner workings and hidden mechanism of the Israeli political structure.” Carter said “I believe this long-standing relationship with him and a personal knowledge of him and his deep commitment to peace in a courageous way will stand us in good stead as we explore the future of our two countries.”
In contrast to the expected pomp and ceremony of a state visit, the welcome to the Rabins was “an official visit” and the usual review of the military honor guard was absent along with the attendance of the thousand or more persons usually invited to the ceremony. About half the size of the regular Marine band played the national anthems of the two countries. But the 19-gun salute for a Prime Minister was sounded.
In addition to the 36 members of the Marine band present, the color guard consisted of four Army men holding Israeli and U.S. flags. Surrounding the lawn were members of the various armed services. About 70 men, women and children from the Israeli Embassy witnessed the ceremony. The usual small flags passed out to guests were absent.