WASHINGTON (Jun. 28)
The Carter Administration, officially and publicly said today that it will welcome Israeli Premier Menachem Begin to Washington and is looking forward to hearing his views on a Middle East settlement.
The State Department also said that National Security Affairs Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski telephoned Israeli Ambassador Simcha Dinitz to this effect last night. Dinitz leaves today for Jerusalem for a week of consultations in Jerusalem in preparation for Begin’s scheduled talks with President Carter here July 19-20.
The Brzezinski call of reassurance came after reports filtered privately and unofficially to reporters that the Administration would have no point in meeting with Begin if he did not retreat from his position of maintaining that Judaea and Samaria commonly known as the West Bank, are parts of Israel. However, Begin has repeatedly said that UN Security Council Resolution 242 is negotiable in all its parts, although he would not say categorically that Israel will leave the territories occupied in the Six-Day War.
The State Department took public dissent from this view yesterday with a statement specifically suggesting that Israel must withdraw from territories as a factor in the negotiations for a settlement. In some U.S. quarters there was a view that things would go much better if Begin and the Likud Party disappeared from the scene and new elections brought more tractable leaders to the helm in Israel.
NO MATERIAL CHANGES SEEN
Meanwhile, Dinitz and Rabbi Alexander Schindler, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, both asserted late yesterday that no material changes have taken place in the U.S. and Israeli positions as a result of the Department’s detailed statement. Both also emphasized that they are seeking to preserve harmony in Israeli-American relations.
Comments by Dinitz and Schindler were made at the State Department where they were met by reporters after they held separate half-hour meetings with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. Earlier, Dinitz also met with Brzezinski at the White House.
Dinitz was asked by reporters whether there are differences in Israeli and American policies. “There is no secret,” the Ambassador replied, “that we had differences of opinion on some items before. I don’t think as a result of this statement any of the differences were either resolved or augmented. I think basically it was a restatement of American policy. I don’t think there was any material change.”
Dinitz emphasized that “our government has said it is prepared to negotiate on all three fronts with all our three neighbors. This has been our policy based on Security Council Resolution 242. It has been publicly enunciated by our Prime Minister and we stand by this.”
Asked whether American and Israeli policies are in harmony, Dinitz replied “Our aim and our effort all the time is to keep it in harmony but that does not mean we do not have, here and there, differences of opinion which we express with candidness and with friendship, the same way the U.S. government expresses them to us.” He said he was carrying “several messages of goodwill” to Israel.
MEETING WITH CARTER JULY 6
Schindler disclosed after meeting Vance that he and other Jewish communal leaders will meet with Carter at the White House July 6 in the climax of a series of meetings he and other American Jewish leaders have been having with Administration officials. Schindler has already conferred with Vice-President Walter Mondale, Vance, Brzezinski Undersecretary of State Philip Habib and Hamilton Jordan, Robert Lipshutz and Stuart Eizenstat of the President’s inner circle of advisors.
Schindler and Yehuda Hellman, the Presidents Conference executive director who accompanied him to the Vance meeting, stressed that Vance denied the Department statement represented a “diminution” of U.S. relations with Israel. “The statement has to be read in its entirety.” Schindler pointed out to reporters.
“Secretary Vance convinced us by saying categorically that the State Department statement absolutely represents no retreat of the Presidential definition of peace–none whatsoever,” Schindler said. “There is no retreat and no diminution in his definition of peace and the nature of peace.” Schindler said he was “perturbed about the escalation of rhetoric” in advance of the Carter-Begin meetings. “This applies to both sides,” he said.