JERUSALEM (Jul. 2)
Vice President Walter Mondale had, apart from his political talks, a crowded schedule today which included visits with Israeli President Yitzhak Navon, to the knesset and to the Sde Boker, the Negev home of the late Premier David Ben Gurion. Later, he participated in the dedication of the Hubert H. Humphrey Center of Social Ecology at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba.
As has been the case since his arrival Mondale made little more than allusions to the differences between the United States and Israel over the current Middle East impasse, although his hosts were sometimes more specific. Navon, in welcoming Mondale at his residence today, said that Israel felt concerned “at the rather frequent public expression of censure” of it by President Carter. But he went on to express confidence that Carter “as a man of exalted moral values and a practical approach” would consider the problems of a small nation like Israel.
Mondale stayed clear of controversial issues in his reply. “My mission here is to reaffirm the profound and enduring commitment of the United States to the security of the State of Israel, “he said. Again, at Beersheba, Yosef Tekoah, president of Ben Gurion University and a former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, said that recent remarks by President Carter and other U.S. officials concerned Israelis. But he expressed the hopes that the Vice President’s visit would strengthen the bonds of friendship between the two countries as well as Israel’s belief in the role the U.S. must play in seeking peace in the Mideast.
Mondale and Navon had a private talk but no details were released. The Vice President presented Navon with the first Bible ever printed in Hebrew in the U.S. “as a symbol of friendship and the deep ties between our people.” It was printed in 1816. Later during a visit to the Knesset, Mondale gave Knesset Speaker Yitzhak Shamir the original copy of the de facto recognition given Israel by the U.S. on May 14, 1948 on the orders of President Truman. The document will be on loan to the Knesset for one-year from the State Department archives.
VISITS BOMB VICTIMS; SEES GOLDA
After laying a wreath at the Knesset’s eternal flame, Mondale was shown around the Knesset by Shamir and the Knesset Secretary Netanel Lorch. The Vice President was accompanied by Samuel Lewis, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and Simcha Dinitz, the Israeli Ambassador in Washington. The Vice President told Shamir he had wanted to come to the inaugural ceremony of the Knesset building in 1966 but had to stay in Washington for a crucial Senate vote.
Mondale also visited the people injured in last Thursday’s bomb blast at the Mahane Yehuda market who were still in Shaare Zedek Hospital. “I never know if I can make it safely to the store in the morning,” one of the injured told him. The Vice President told the hospital’s director, Prof. David Meir, that he felt committed to search for a solution to enable Israelis to do their Shabbat shopping without finding themselves in the hospital the next day.
One of the major private events of the tour was Mondale’s visit with former Premier Golda Meir for an hour and a half at her home in Tel Aviv. No statement was made about the meeting but Mondale did kiss Mrs. Meir on the cheek at the urging of photographers. However, it was learned that Mrs. Meir told the Vice President that while the Labor Alignment opposes the present government there is a national consensus against returning to the 1967 borders and a Palestinian state.
AT THE WESTERN WALL
Mondale visited the Western Wall Friday accompanied by Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem who had earlier created a brief furor when he said he would boycott all of the Vice President’s visit because Mondale, in accordance with U.S. policy, would not make an official visit to East Jerusalem. Mondale placed a message in the Wall asking for peace. He was accompanied by his wife, Joan, and daughter, Eleanor. For security reasons they were allowed on the side of the wall reserved usually only for men. There were many signs in the crowd at the Wall attacking U.S. policy but there were also many people, mostly U.S. tourists, who cheered the Vice President.
Earlier in the day Mondale was welcomed to Israel in a warm ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport. “Your goodwill visit here comes at a time of anxiety and hope throughout the world,” Premier Menachem Begin said. “We do believe that hope will prevail and anxiety will disappear.”
Vice President Mondale, in his reply, noted that “On your 30th anniversary we have to come to celebrate with you the miracle–and that’s what it is–of the Jewish State.” He stressed that the U.S. stood behind Israel when it was born and continues to back it. He noted that he had participated in most of the conversations Begin had in Washington with Carter “and so when we meet, we meet not just as representatives of two nations, but as friends.”