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Carter: Israel Has a Right to Defend Itself Against Terrorism U.S. Will Not Abandon Israel

President Carter declared last night that Israel has a right to defend itself “against terrorism from the north or against her neighbors from the east or the south” and pledged that “this government and this President will never abandon Israel.” He also expressed “great concern and disgust at a growing clamor around the world that Zionism is the same as racism.” That, Carter added, is” an outrage and a disgrace to human beings.”

The President made these remarks in answers to questions at a “town meeting” at Queens College attended by 1700 New Yorkers. His answers to questions on Israel and the Middle East and other issues on domestic and foreign policy were punctuated with whistles and applause.

One questioner asked why Carter opposes Israel’s right to defend itself against Palestine Liberation Organization terrorist incursions into Israel when the U.S. would not tolerate terrorist attacks from Cuba.

Carter replied that “any nation has a right to defend itself, obviously, including Israel.” He noted that “A basis of the Camp David accords was the right of Israel to defend itself, a right of Israel to be secure and along with that was a commitment made by President (Anwar) Sadat (of Egypt) and myself and Prime Minister (Menachem) Begin (of Israel) that the Palestinian question in all its aspects would be resolved, that the Palestinian people have a right to a voice in the determination of their own future, but at the same time Sadat agreed on behalf of many Arabs that Israel would have a right to defend itself.”

The President added that “I have never questioned Israel’s right to defend herself against terrorism” and affirmed that “this government and this President will never abandon Israel. We will always support Israel and we will always do what we can to make sure — and we will always make sure that Israel has the means by which to defend themselves.”