Washington (Feb. 5)
– Human rights will continue to be a prime issue to the Reagan Administration, Rep. Jack Kemp (R. NY) told a meeting here yesterday of the International Council of B’nai B’rith. While praising President Reagan and Secretary of State Alexander Haig for their statements on foreign policy, Kemp noted that Haig has placed greater emphasis on combatting world terrorism.
“The struggle for human rights must go on,” the Congressman declared. “I don’t think the United States can afford to signal the world that it is relaxing its fight for human rights.” Contending that the U.S. has applied a double standard in the human rights struggle, “rewarding our enemies and punishing our friends,” Kemp urged a reversal of that practice.
Kemp, a self-described “bleeding heart liberal,” concentrated on economic issues and foreign policy matters which, he emphasized, were intertwined. “A nation’s ultimate defense is its credibility, in its foreign policy, its words, its military, its economy.”
ATTITUDE TOWARDS ISRAEL
About Israel, Kemp declared: “Support for Israel is support for those values, ideals and principles for which the United States was founded.” He said he would not let Reagan forget the promise he made at the B’nai B’rith convention in Washington last summer to support Israel nor allow Republicans to ignore that plank in their election campaign platform.
In answer to a question about the Venice declaration which was adopted last June by European Economic Community ministers, which called for the Palestine Liberation Organization to play a role in the Middle East peace process and thereby was antithetical to the Camp David peace process, Kemp said he did not believe the declaration has any meaning to Reagan.
The President, Kemp said, accepts the premise of Camp David as a future basis for developing a solution to the Mideast situation, a “process of step by step, with Israel negotiating with its neighbors.” He added that he believes it is the consensus of Congress to oppose the sale of offensive weapons to those Mideast countries that refuse to participate in the peace process.
OPPOSES SALE OF OFFENSIVE WEAPONS
“There is a desire to slow down the frenetic approach to negotiations in the Middle East,” Kemp said. “One way to do it is to make sure there are no offensive weapons sold to Arab states, particularly in light of the Venice declaration” and the call for a jihad (holy war) against Israel as was mounted last week in Taif, Saudi Arabia at the summit meeting of Islamic nations. On the other hand, Kemp said, “it is absolutely imperative” to give Israel the military assistance it needs as well as to provide “a sounder basis for the Israeli economy.”
The Congressman also said that steps should be taken to scale down U.S. funding for the United Nations. These cutbacks, he explained, are not only for budgetary reasons but “to send a signal that the United States will no longer finance to that degree a forum that is anti-West, anti-democratic, anti-Israel and illiberal.”