Muskie Meets with Jewish Leaders

Howard Squadron, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said after a luncheon meeting at the State Department today of six national Jewish leaders with Secretary of State Edmund Muskie that the Jerusalem issue is “magnified” and not of “real value.” He suggested that concentration on an autonomy agreement for the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be more in the interests of Egypt, Israel and the U.S.

“I have no position on Jerusalem,” Squadron said when asked for his views on the Knesset’s adoption today of a law declaring united Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital. He pointed out that the Presidents Conference consists of 34 diverse organizations. But “these issues are magnified and symbolic rather than real value,” he said.

“Unfortunately; they have gotten much attention and caused this much reaction. It would be better if all the parties concentrated on an autonomy agreement. That would be in everybody’s interest–Israel, the U.S. and Egypt.”

NO PRESSURE FROM MUSKIE

Squadron replied, “Not at all” when he was asked if Muskie sought to have Jewish leaders persuade the Israeli government not to move the Prime Minister’s Office to East Jerusalem. He also said that Muskie described “provocative” as “not a very good word” in referring to the Knesset’s action on Jerusalem.

Asked by a reporter if he would communicate with the Israeli government, Squadron said that he is in contact with Israeli officials from time to time but “there is nothing coming from this meeting (with Muskie) that specifically requires me to be in contact with the Israel government.”

Saying “We were very pleased with the responses” from Muskie, Squadron specifically welcomed the Secretary’s letter to him about the position of the U.S. delegation to the Decade for Women conference in Copenhagen. He said the U.S. position is “very firm” against the intrusion of the Palestinian issue into the conference and against attacks on Israel there.

In addition to Squadron, the Jewish leaders at the meeting were Ivan Novick, Theodore Mann, Maxwell Greenberg, Maynard Wishner and Charlotte Levitan. The discussion included the problems of Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union, but Squadron did not elaborate on that subject.

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