State Department Spokesman Retracts Reply That Begin Was a Terrorist

State Department spokesman Hodding Carter swiftly retracted an affirmative reply he gave to a reporter at today’s press briefing as to whether Premier Menachem Begin of Israel has ever acknowledged that he committed a terrorist act. He did so after he was challenged by another reporter and the question and reply were expunged from the official briefing record.

The question was posed by a reporter for a far left publication whose questions frequently reflect an anti-Israel slant. When Carter said “yes,” another reporter, known for his pro-Israel sentiments, demanded to know where and when Begin ever made such an acknowledgement. The State Department spokesman said “in his book,” apparently referring to Begin’s autobiography, “The Revolt.”

The reporter insisted that the book contained no such admission nor had Begin ever acknowledged a terrorist act in an interview. Carter replied, “It’s a matter of interpretation” and added, “I retract it, the whole series of questions and answers dealing with Begin.”

SOME ANSWERS TO HUSSEIN’S QUESTIONS

Meanwhile, the State Department acknowledged that columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak were “accurate” in their report today of replies given by the United States to questions posed by King Hussein of Jordan on the future of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and matters relating to East Jerusalem. But the Department continued to refuse to make public the texts of the 14 questions posed by Hussein or the American responses to them.

According to Evans and Novak, Hussein asked, ‘”Will there be any (settlements)after the end of the five-year transition”‘ on the West Bank, and, “‘What is the U.S. position’ on whether the self-governing authority to be created on the West Bank includes East Jerusalem ‘both in terms of territory and people.”‘

The American reply to the first of these questions was, “‘Whatever number (of settlements) that might remain beyond the transitional period…would presumably be agreed to in the negotiations concerning the final status of the West Bank and Gaza.”‘ To the second question, the response was, “‘The U.S. will support proposals that would permit the Arab inhabitants of East Jerusalem who are not Israeli citizens’ to vote in the elections leading to self-rule. Further, these Jerusalem Palestinians could share ‘in the work of the self-governing authority itself.’”

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