WASHINGTON (May. 26)
President Carter said today that he did not view Likud leader Menachem Beigin, who is expected to be Israel’s next Premier, as an “insurmountable obstacle” to United States efforts to achieve a peace settlement in the Middle East. He said he believed Beigin will “moderate” his views as he also expects the Arab leaders to do in order to achieve a settlement.
Carter, responding to questions at a press conference, said that once Israeli President Ephraim Katzir officially designates Beigin as Premier he will congratulate him and invite him to Washington. He said he believes that Beigin will moderate his views once he meets with the Administration, members of Congress and American Jewish leaders.
The President noted that there are always difficulties when a new government comes in but in Israel, as in every democracy, the government expresses “the hopes and fears” of the people they represent. He said in putting together a coalition government Beigin will have to make concessions to other views in Israel as he has already done in dealing with Yigal Yadin’s Democratic Movement for Change. He did not elaborate on this.
The President denied that any of the public comments he has made on the Middle East had any effect on the Israeli election. He said these were issues that should be discussed by Israelis, Arabs and Americans and he will continue to speak out on public issues when he deems it advisable.
STILL FAVORS ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL
Carter, responding to a question, said it is “still my position” that Israel would have to withdraw from the West Bank with “minor adjustments.” He said the U. S. does not have a Middle East settlement plan but the basic requirements for peace have been “spelled out clearly” in United Nations resolutions.
The President identified the requirements as the right of the Palestinians to a “homeland,” compensation to Palestinian refugees for their losses, Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and the end of belligerency with the establishment of permanent and secure borders.
The UN Security Council has never adopted a resolution referring to a “Palestinian homeland.” The General Assembly has adopted several resolutions which have alluded indirectly to a homeland, referring specifically to a Palestinian “entity,” the right of the Palestinians to “return to their homes and property from which they were uprooted,” or the establishment of a Palestinian state. The U. S. voted against all these Assembly resolutions. Carter is the first President to speak of the need for a “Palestinian homeland.”
Carter stressed that “we have no control of anyone in the Middle East, we do not want any control of anyone.” Asked to say specifically where Israel should withdraw–on the Golan Heights, the West Bank, Jerusalem and Sinai–Carter said it would be “inappropriate for me to draw a line.” He said it must be done through negotiations by the parties involved.
He said the Rogers Plan failed because the parties involved were not consulted when Secretary of State William Rogers in the Nixon Administration proposed if. He said the Administration should not go into details but outline positions which have been held by all previous Administrations.
Some observers noted that despite his misgivings about the Rogers Plan, Carter was critical more of the way it was being applied than of the plan’s substance. There was also a feeling that Carter’s reference to UN resolutions on the Palestinian question was a hint that he was seeking to shore up his own views on this issue by seeking to place in a broader context and historical framework the future of the Palestinian people.