WASHINGTON (May. 14)
Assurances of their strong support for Israel’s security and tributes to its strategic importance in the Middle East to the United States were reiterated by the five Presidential candidates to some 600 Jewish leaders from most of the 50 states meeting here Monday.
Addressing the 21st annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) were independent John Anderson (R.III.), Vice President Walter Mondale for President Carter, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D.Mass.) Ray Cline for George Bush and William Casey for Ronald Reagan, in that order. All drew varying applause. Cline, a former State Department and CIA chief who new is at Georgetown University, summarized their remarks with. We all lave AIPAC and Israel.”
STATEMENT BY MONDALE
Mondale stressed that “the one crucial difference” between Carter and the other candidates is “not on promises but in offering performance” and asked that he be “judged on the record” which he said was of “unprecedented performance.” He noted that since Israel’s birth 32 years ago, the U.S. has provided it with $22 billion and the Carter Administration has allocated half of it.
Referring to the Egyptian suspension of the autonomy talks, Mondale said that there is “no breakdown” in the negotiations and that “May 26 is not chiseled on concrete. It doesn’t have to be the target date” for agreement to be reached. “Those who criticize” Carter, President Anwar Sodat and Premier Menachem Begin, he said, should “turn their criticism on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. That’s the real target for criticism in the Middle East.” Mondale reiterated that the Carter Administration is for an undivided Jerusalem but he did not indicate under whose sovereignty.
ANDERSON STATES HIS VIEWS
Anderson drew heavy applause when he said that “as President I would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move our Embassy.” When the applause subsided, he observed that he had not finished his sentence and added that he would move the Embassy to Jerusalem “at the conclusion of the peace-making process.” He added, “You can applaud again,” but the applause was noticeably less voluminous.
Asked about his endorsement of his candidacy by former ‘Undersecretary of State George Ball, a persistent critic of Israel, Anderson said that “we’ve agreed to disagree on matters involving the Middle East. I don’t share his views in that regard.” Responding to his sponsorship of amendments in the Congress that tended to establish a Christian America, he reiterated that was on “error” and that he has “demonstrated my fidelity to separation of church and state since 1971.”
Asked why not move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem now and not wait until the peace process is finished, he said that “it seems given the difficulties we face in the current negotiations this is not an appropriate time to raise the issue. I am committed to an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on culmination of the peace settlement in that area.”
KENNEDY ON ISSUES
Kennedy scored the Carter Administration’s record on Israel, pointing to the 1977 Soviet-American agreement, weapons to Saudi Arabia; U.S. ambassadors meeting with Palestine Liberation Organization officials and the U.S. vote for the anti-Israel resolution March 1 in the UN Security Council.
Discussing settlements, Kennedy said, “I reject the idea that the U.S. can superimpose its will on the issue of settlements.” He said that the issue has “to be worked out between Israel and Egypt and the other states.” Israel’s interest in the settlements “is an issue of security and that’s what the U.S. should be focusing on.”
On Jerusalem, he said “Israel has mode a convincing case of sovereignty” but that “moving of our Embassy has to be worked out with the people in the area.” He added “I do believe that the issue should be resolved in the total peace settlements.”
VIEWS OF BUSH PRESENTED
Cline said Bush “rejects any tradeoff in Israel’s security and oil for America.” He added that “it is essential for the Soviet Union and hard-line rejectionist nations to understand we have the will to protect ourselves and our friends.” He urged “arrangements with the State of Israel and others to use military facilities to protect” U.S. national interests. “On the security of Israel there can be no compromise;” he said.
REAGAN’S VIEWS ENUNCIATED
Casey, who is Reagan’s campaign manager, did not mention Jerusalem in his prepared remarks although Reagan had previously said that he favored Israeli sovereignty over the city. Casey said that “America’s duty is to assure that peace in the Middle East does not mean suicide.” The Reagan Administration, Casey said, “will work with Israel as a friend and ally that will enhance Israel’s economic and military capabilities and resistance to terrorism.”
Asked about former Texas Governor John Connolly’s allegiance to Reagan after Connolly had been critical of Israel, Casey said Reagan’s “appointees will share his (Reagan’s) basic views.” Casey said “yes” when asked if Reagan would back economic and military aid to Israel on “present levels.”
AIPAC president Lawrence Weinberg told the meeting that “if we (the U.S.) had stood up” when the Israeli Embassy was seized in Teheran and given to the PLO “then perhaps our Embassy would not have been seized.”