NEW YORK (Apr. 10)
Former President Gerald Ford, in a speech strongly critical of President Carter’s Middle East policy, charged last night that Carter is making “serious mistakes” in his treatment of Israel.
“Nothing is more destructive to the negotiating process than for the United States to leave the impression that it dogmatically insists that Israel make concessions,” he told some 1400 persons at a dinner sponsored by the National Council of Young Israel at the Americana Hotel. “Only the parties themselves can negotiate peace.”
Ford said that the Carter Administration’s major mistake in the Mideast was bringing the Soviet Union back into the region. The USSR has never shown any signs of playing a constructive role in the area, he stressed.
The Carter Administration should use the 1975 Israeli-Egyptian agreement worked out during the Ford Administration as a basis for future negotiations, the former President said. He noted that at present “a totally separate peace . . . may not be a realistic option for Egypt. It can only provide a foundation and umbrella for later agreements between Israel and Jordan and Israel and Syria.”
CRITICAL OF PUBLIC RHETORIC
Ford also criticized what he called “escalating public rhetoric” in current U.S. diplomacy. He said the U.S. should go back to the quiet diplomacy of his Administration and be willing to do more listening than talking. “Private cooperation is more helpful than public condemnation,” he said.
In an oblique reference to recent reports that the Carter Administration is interested in ousting Premier Menachem Begin from office, the former President said: “America should never be in the position of telling another nation who its leader should be.” Ford, who has expressed interest in running for the Presidency in 1980, also declared: “I remember some of the statements made by Mr. Carter in October 1976 during the heat of the campaign. It just goes to show that performance and not campaign promise is the true test of the Presidency.”