WASHINGTON (Jan. 24)
President Carter’s characterization of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty as “a strategic asset for American was not in the prepared text of the State of the Union message he delivered to a joint session of Congress last night. Neither did the prepared text, which was given to reporters well in advance of the President’s address, contain his emphatic statement, “Let no one doubt our commitment to the security of Israel.”
At the White House today, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was told that the President’s remarks were his own interpolations. There was no immediate indication as to whether the previous reports within the Carter Administration that Israel was to be downgraded as a strategic asset were thus being shouted aside by the President.
SECTION ON THE MIDEAST
Following is the text from the White House transcript of the section of the President’s address pertaining to the Middle East:
“We are working with out allies to prevent conflict in the Middle East. The peace treaty between Egypt and Israel is a notable achievement which represents a strategic asset for America and which also enhances prospects for regional and world peace. We are now engaged in further negotiations to provide full autonomy for the people of the West Bank and Gaza, to resolve the Palestinian issue in all its aspects, and to preserve the peace and security of Israel.
“Let no one doubt our commitment to the security of Israel. In a few days we will observe on historic event when Israel makes another major withdrawal from the Sinai and when ambassadors will be exchanged between Israel and Egypt.”
The President also said in his address, “We believe that there are no irreconcilable differences between the U.S. and any Islamic nation. We respect the faith of Islam and we are ready to cooperate with all Moslem countries. Finally, we are prepared to work with other countries in the region to shore a cooperative security framework that reflects differing values and political beliefs, yet which enhances the independence, security and prosperity of all.”
The President’s statements appeared to confirm a report in the JTA News Bulletin on Jan. 18 that a Middle East doctrine was in the making to contain Soviet expansionism and prevent further Soviet penetration of the Middle East and its strategic assets.
ISRAEL WELCOMES CARTER’S SPEECH
The Israel Embassy here welcomed Carter’s State of the Union message as one of “great importance to all freedom-loving people around the world.” An Embassy spokesman also said that “Israel expresses its special satisfaction with the President’s reference to the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Israel, for its part, will implement fully the Camp David accords and in particular all elements regarding the autonomy for the inhabitants of Judoea, Samaria and Gaza.”
(In Jerusalem, political circles expressed satisfaction with the reference to the autonomy talks in Carter’s State of the Union Message. They also described his statement on the peace agreement as “impressive.” The source of satisfaction was Carter’s omission of any reference to the present difficulties in the autonomy negotiations and the fact that he stuck to referring to “full autonomy for the people of the West Bank and Gaza” without going into specifics.)