Carter Kennedy Groups Battle over Change in Democratic Platform Jerusalem Plank

A controversial plank on the status of Jerusalem will come before the Democratic Party’s full 158-member platform committee tomorrow. On Friday and again today preliminary discussions have resulted in victories for supporters of the Carter Administration against backers of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts who is continuing to contest the President’s denomination at the Democratic National Convention in New York in August.

The plank, as now written and approved by Carter’s supporters and opposed by the Kennedy forces, reads: “As stated in the 1976 platform, the Democratic Party recognizes and supports ‘the established status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, with free access to all its holy places provided to all faiths. As a symbol of this stand, the U.S. Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.’ At the same time it is recognized that the Democratic Administration has special responsibilities resulting from its deep engagement in the delicate process of promoting a wider peace for Israel.”

KENNEDY GROUP OPPOSES QUALIFICATION

The drafting subcommittee last Thursday defeated a move by the Kennedy group 6-3 to retain the language of the 1976 platform. That plank did not have the qualifying last sentence added by the Carter group.

David Aron, deputy chief of the National Security Council, led the Carter group while former Sen. Dick Clark of Iowa headed the Kennedy forces in the debate in the subcommittee. Sen. Daniel Moynihan of New York, opposing the Carter formula, was reported to have said that if the Carter version is adopted he (Moynihan) would have to go into exile in the Mayflower Hotel (where the platform committee is meeting) and never return to New York.

The Democratic Foreign Policy Task Force, consisting of 28 members, adopted the subcommittee’s version by a 5-3 vote. Nevertheless, the Kennedy forces said they would continue the fight in the full platform committee and on to the convention floor if necessary to limit the plank to the original 1976 language.

Task Force chairman Jack Loiello, a historian with the National Endowment for the Humanities, was a resident of London for five years and represents Democrats abroad. “Democrats abroad favor the 1976 language and no changes. Full stop,” Loiello said.

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