NEW YORK (May. 18)
Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser of Australia pledged here today that his country would remain "unshakably steadfast" in its support of Israel and its refusal to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization. At the same time, Australia’s Foreign Minister, Toney Street, suggested that Israel should not now be pressured into resuming the autonomy negotiations because it needed "time to digest" the withdrawal from Sinai.
Street and Fraser, currently visiting the U.S. made their remarks during on hour-long off-the-record meeting with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations presided over by its chairman, Howard Squadron.
Fraser told the assembled American Jewish leaders that Australia’s concern for Israel was based "not only on the history of Jewish settlement of the Holy Land but also on the right of a free people to exist without the threat of aggression."
During his talk, and in a question-and-answer session that followed, the Australian Prime Minister warned of "a world-wide campaign to paint the PLO as an underdog" and to diminish support for Israel. "For this reason, it is important for Israel, in the conduct of its own affairs, to do everything possible to permit its friends, like Australia, to continue to support her."
NEED TO CONSIDER WORLD RESPONSE
Noting that "the number of countries supporting Israel is declining," Fraser said Israel should take into account the response of other countries" to actions such as an incursion into Lebanon… The implications of Israeli actions and the effect they will have in the wider world cannot be overlooked," he said. "If Israel must go into Lebanon — and I recognize Israel’s many serious concerns — it will be perceived in many places on an unprovoked invasion, and this will make it more difficult for Israel’s friends to support its actions," he said.
Street said he was "certain" that progress could be made in the autonomy talks but that he would "be hesitant about pushing for early progress now. Let there be time for confidence to be built in Israel about peace with Egypt," he said. In that connection, he noted that President Hosni Mubarak had told him it was "unthinkable that the present generation of Egyptians would go to war with Israel."