Administration Stirs Up Anger

The Carter Administration poured oil on the angry waters in Israel and the American Jewish community today over the joint Soviet-American declaration on a Middle East settlement. But it continued to leave hanging what U.S. intentions are.

Responding to questions arising from the declaration and National Security Affairs advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski’s warning that the U.S. would use its “leverage” to bring a settlement, the State Department reiterated its pledges of commitment to Israel’s security and that a Geneva conference would determine particulars of a settlement.

In a Canadian National Television interview a few hours before the joint statement was released–Brzezinski taped the interview Saturday and the program was broadcast yesterday–Brzezinski said that “We have created the conditions for going to Geneva,” and that the “United States has a legitimate right to exercise its own leverage, peaceful and constructive, to obtain a settlement. And that’s exactly what we will be doing.”

LEVERAGE OF WORLD OPINION

Today, Assistant Secretary of State Hodding Carter, the chief spokesman at the State Department, looked upon the Brzezinski comments as part of the Administration’s belief that “world opinion” constitutes “a form of leverage to make compromises all around.”

Replying to a reporter who noted that Israel considers the declaration “unacceptable,” Carter said that Jerusalem and Washington “disagree on some approaches” to a settlement but “I would not want to phrase this at all as a crisis.”

Regarding Israel’s view that Jerusalem was not consulted in advance on the Soviet-American statement but was provided with a copy of it only 24 hours in advance of announcement, Carter claimed that “We believe we had sought” to do that but “I suspect by their point of view this was not completely adhered to.” Carter said the “moral commitment made” by the Ford Administration to Israel is one “that we intend to follow.” This is in respect to U.S. refusal to deal with the PLO until it abides by Security Council Resolution 242 and recognizes Israel’s right to exist.

Carter said “absolutely” in denying a “shift” in U.S. policy toward Israel. “Whatever interpretation” might be put on the Soviet American phrase “legitimate rights” of the Palestinians, he said, would have to be defined by the parties. “We are not going to define them, A,B,C,D,E,F.” The phrase, he said, “basically restates” the U.S. position in its Sept. 12 statement that a “true peace” is unattainable without “consideration of the presence and rights of Palestinians.”

Since the U.S. has previously spoken of Palestinian “interests” while “rights” are interpreted as code language for return of Arabs from abroad to Israel itself as well as establishment of a Palestinian state probably under PLO domination, Carter conceded that “clearly that is a change of words.” But he insisted that determination of “rights” are “precisely for those who live” in the area.

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