WASHINGTON (Dec. 19)
Five Jewish organizational leaders expressed to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance today their “perceptions” of the role of the Carter Administration in the negotiations for an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. They also expressed the hope that the United States will serve as a mediator and not take sides in the discussions.
The five leaders who met with Vance at the State Department for an hour following a three-hour session with his principal Middle East aides, were there at Vance’s invitation, the head of the group, Theodore Mann, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told reporters afterwards. Mann said that the Jewish leaders have asked for a meeting with President Carter but the White House has not yet scheduled one.
The meetings at the State Department and the request to the President were set late last week at about the time the Israeli government received the American-endorsed Egyptian demands that in the Israeli view watered down the peace treaty draft the U.S. had offered both countries Nov. 11.
“There can be no peace unless the United States returns to the even-handed role” that it played at Camp David, Mann said. He said that the Administration is now “interested in getting the negotiations back on the track” and that he had the “feeling” that “the Administration is trying to do things right, now.” He would not discuss them. He expressed the hope “that the U.S. will resume its role as a mediator.” Mann said there is a “great deal of anguish and very deep concern regarding the events of the last 10 days” following Administration support for Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s conditions for reopening the peace treaty draft of Nov. 11.
GREAT ANGER AMONG AMERICAN JEWS
When a reporter asked Mann whether he had spoken with Israeli Premier Menachem Begin about the Israeli Cabinet decision last Friday to reject the Egyptian demands, Mann said he had, and added, “the implication that Mr. Begin would suggest American Jewry undertake any campaign at all is wrong, that would never happen and did not happen. We make those decisions ourselves.”
Mann said the group will present what they learned today to the 32 member organizations of the Presidents Conference. He said that “there is a great deal of anger out there” among American Jews. When he was asked whether this was the angriest the Jewish community had ever been, Mann said, “it is somewhat less of an outrage” than after the Oct. 1, 1977 joint Soviet-American statement was issued by the White House. “We are all waiting to see if the U.S. attitude towards Israel is a transient phenomenon that will vanish immediately or continue,” he said.
In addition to Mann, the other Jewish leaders who met with Vance and earlier with Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Harold Saunders, included Howard Squadron, president of the American Jewish Congress; Max Greenberg, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith; Rabbi Joseph Sternstein, president of the American Zionist Federation, and Rabbi Israel Miller, former chairman of the Presidents Conference.