WASHINGTON (Mar. 3)
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D.Mass.) has denounced the Carter Administration for the U.S. vote in the United Nations Security Council Saturday supporting a resolution that condemned Israel’s settlement policies in the occupied Arab territories, including East Jerusalem. In a statement issued yesterday, Kennedy assailed the U.S. vote “as a shameful moment in the diplomatic history of our nation” and said it was a reversal of past policy.
State Department spokesman Thomas Reston said today that he “disagreed” with Kennedy’s statement and defended the Administration’s position in the Security Council vote. In a prepared statement, Reston said “There is no change in our basic policy on settlements or Jerusalem” but declined to say if Jerusalem is or is not part of the West Bank. “The future status of Jerusalem is for the parties to negotiate,” the State Department spokesman said.
A White House spokesperson told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency earlier today that it was uncertain whether the Administration would respond to Kennedy but suggested that the State Department might have additional comments. Kennedy, who is seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination, was the first Presidential aspirant of either party to react to the U.S. vote. His statement said:
By joining the latest UN attack against Israel, the Carter Administration has turned its back on the single democracy, the most stable government, the most vital strategic asset and the closest ally of the U.S. in the Middle East. To condemn Israel, as the Carter Administration has done, in voting for this one-sided resolution, is to pre-judge the negotiations called for in the Camp David accords, to undermine the possibility of a just and lasting peace and to give aid and comfort to the enemy of our friend and city, Israel.”
The statement added: “A Kennedy Administration would never cast such a vote. It would do all in its power to support a negotiated solution which is agreed to by the interested parties, rather than imposed by the bloc politics of the United Notions.”
EXPLAINS BASIS FOR U.S. VOTE
Reston, who was questioned at length today on the U.S. vote in the Security Council, insisted that “Our policy has been consistently stated over a number of months and remains unchanged.” Asked how that position on settlements and East Jerusalem squared with Vice. President Walter Mondale’s statement last November that President Carter and he stood for “an undivided Jerusalem, Reston said he would not comment on the matter.
Asked why the U.S. voted for the resolution he replied that “The thrust of the resolution is consistent with U.S. policy. Having expressed our opposition to dismantling settlements, we decided to vote for it. “Reminded that in past years the U.S. had abstained in Security Council votes on the same issue, Reston said that “apart from including the phrase ‘dismantling,’ we have consistently opposed Israeli policy of developing settlements in occupied territories.”
When it was pointed out that by such reasoning the U.S. could agree to a resolution in favor of a Palestinian state, Reston repeated, “What we have said before, we have made clear our opposition to any effort to change or amend Resolution 242 in any way.”
The British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) reported last week that Secretary of State Cyrus Vance had asked Yale social science Prof. Colin Williams last year to draft a substitute for Resolution 242 that would placate the Palestinians and not embarrass the State Department. In. connection with that report, the State Department said Friday that it would not discuss something that happened a year ago.
Asked about a report that Carter’s special Ambassador to the Middle East, Sol Linowitz, had opposed U.S. approval of the Security Council resolution but was overridden by Carter and Vance, Reston said, “I don’t know if it is true.” Asked if Israel’s protests against the U.S. vote were justified, Reston. said the Israelis would “have to speak for themselves.” He said “I hope not” when asked if the issue would jeopardize future U.S.-Israeli relations.
Reston said he would not express a viewpoint as to whether the vote pre-judged the issue in the current tripartite talks on Palestinian autonomy. Asked about reports that the French government now favors self-determination for the Palestinians following President Valery Giscard d’Estaing’s visit to Kuwait, Reston declined to comment, saying, “that is up to the French and the Kuwaitis.” (See related story.)
LIVID WITH ANGER
Friends of Israel here were livid with anger at the Administration’s vote in view, of the fact that in Washington, only five days earlier, Carter, in a personal appearance before the Young Leadership Conference of the United Jewish Appeal, pledged support for Israel’s security and defense; and last November, before another nationwide Jewish gathering, Mondale pledged that the Carter Administration stood for “an undivided Jerusalem.”
The State Department, on three subsequent occasions, refused to adhere to the Mondale statement, telling the JTA that it should ask the Vice President about the policy of the U.S. and pointing out-on another occasion that U.S. policy had been previously defined with respect to Jerusalem.
In noting that the Security Council vote posed potential politically grove consequences, friends of Israel here observed that the Carter Administration, in effect, was making an alliance for the protection of oil interests and propping up the royal families of Morocco, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and the sheikhs of the Persian Gulf, rather than defend the only reliable, pro-American state in the area.