Washington (Nov. 22)
The Reagan Administration’s two chief national security Cabinet members indicated today that the United States is not prepared to go beyond the storing of medical supplies in Israel and joint planning in implementing the stategic cooperation agreement worked out by President Reagan and Premier Menachem Begin last September.
Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, appearing on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press” program said that he expects a “memorandum of understanding” to be signed following his talks with Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon which start here Nov. 30. But when Weinberger was asked if the talks could result in the stockpiling of arms in Israel, he said he did not know if the talks would get into that. However, he specifically said that the talks would include the need for having hospital and medical supplies available in Israel should a conflict in the Mideast break out.
Secretary of State Alexander Haig, also made this point on his appearance on ABC-TV’s “This Week With David Brinkley,” Haig noted that when he outlined the cooperation agreement at the end of Begin’s visit to Washington, he specifically mentioned the stockpiling of some medical supplies in Israel, a possible joint U.S.-Israeli naval maneuver in the eastern Mediterranean and joint planning against threats to the Middle East from outside the region.
The Israelis reportedly want the U.S. to stock-pile weapons in Israel and want a satellite so they can monitor activities of Arab countries themselves. They now receive information from U.S. “spy” satellites.
“We’ve got to deal with the realities of what American strategic plans in the area require,” Haig said. “We’ve got to deal with the political constraints associated with our relationship with Israel and the maintenance of good relations with a number of moderate Arab regimes.”
Weinberger stressed that stategic cooperation with Israel is not something new but part of a longtime ongoing process about the ways to defend the Middle East against a threat from the Soviet Union.
U.S. ‘WEDDED’ TO CAMP DAVID PROCESS
In his television appearance, Haig stressed that the U.S. is “wedded to the Camp David peace process.” He rejected the suggestion that the process would be over when Israel completes its final withdrawal from the Sinai next April 25. He said the Camp David agreements call for a continued normalization of relations between Israel and Egypt, which he said has been progressing very well in the last few weeks, and, above all, the negotiations to achieve autonomy with the Palestinian Arabs on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Haig reiterated what he said was the President’s position on Jerusalem. “The future of Jerusalem is to be decided by the parties,” he said. He said the President also believes it should have a “united regime in which all the holy places would be available.”
After a delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations met with the President last Thursday, Howard Squadron, the group’s chairman said Reagan recommitted himself to what he told the Presidents Conference on Sept. 15, 1980 when he was a candidate. At that time, Reagan talked of a united Jerusalem under Israel’s sovereignty, but also suggested a sort of “vaticanization” for the holy sites. (Related story P. 3.)
The State Department on Friday and Haig today pointed to Reagan’s statement before a meeting of B’nai B’rith International on Sept. 3, 1980, as the official policy of the President today. At that time, he supported a united Jerusalem but said the final status of the city must be left to negotiations.
When columnist George Will asked Haig today why in the meantime the U.S. could not move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is Israel’s capital, Haig replied that such a move would “infringe on the freedom of the negotiators. I think it is that simple.”