Shultz: U.S. Not Seeking to Impose Solution of Mideast Crisis
Menu JTA Search

Shultz: U.S. Not Seeking to Impose Solution of Mideast Crisis

Download PDF for this date

Secretary of State George Shultz assured American Jewish leaders last night that the United States does not intent to impose a solution of the Middle East crisis.

“When it comes to safeguarding the long-term security of Israel, the friendship and resolve of the United States are second in importance only to Israel’s own resolution and strength,” Shultz said. “And, in the final analysis, that friendship and resolve deserve, in return, to be reciprocated by a willingness to listen with an open mind to the views of others.”

But, Shultz stressed, “we have a right to be heard, but we have no intention of using our support for Israel’s security as a way of imposing our views.”

Shultz, in his first public speech since he assumed office in July, addressed about 300 national leaders attending the opening session of the United Jewish Appeal “Hineni I” leadership meeting held at the Helmsley Palace Hotel here. The dinner was for donors of $100,000 and more and marked the first public event here in the 1983 UJA/Community campaign.

The Secretary of State was received with enthusiasm by the audience who interrupted his speech four times with applause and gave him standing ovations at the beginning and the end of his address.

During his 30-minute speech Shultz repeatedly stressed the U.S. commitment to a secure and strong Israel. But he also emphasized that President Reagan’s new Mideast plan offers a one time opportunity for peace in the Mideast that should not be missed by Israel and the Arabs alike.


“The President has offered a challenge — the challenge of peace–to Israelis and Arabs alike,” Shultz declared. He said that Reagan decided to introduce his plan “because the Mideast today is at a moment of unprecedented opportunity. Israel, the moderate Arab states, the Palestinians, and the United States are all affected, and all now face the choice between hope and frustration, between peace and conflict.” He said that all parties involved should not miss this unique opportunity for peace for it may never come again.

“Israel has demonstrated once again, at tragic cost, that it will not be defeated militarily,” Shultz said. “If Israel’s adversaries want peace and justice they must recognize, clearly and explicitly, the right of the State of Israel to exist, and they must enter, as President Reagan said, ‘direct, hard, and fair’ negotiations with Israel. When they do, Israel then has the chance to translate military strength into peace, the only long-term security.”

Claiming that Reagan’s plan “is gathering force and momentum, both here and abroad,” Shultz said he believed it will gather even more support “as people read and study that speech carefully.” Reviewing the major points of the President’s initiative, Shultz stated:

“Our vision of the future on the West Bank is one guided by a vision of a secure Israel living with defensible borders and by our abiding belief that it is not in Israel’s long term interests to try to rule over the more than one million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.”

As for the President’s proposal that the Palestinians be granted self-government in association with Jordan, Shultz said that the United States believes, however, “that peace cannot be achieved by the creation of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza. The President has stated clearly and unequivocally that we will not support an independent Palestinian state in the territories.”

Shultz also recalled that the President said in his televised speech September I that he believes Israel should not return to its 1967 borders. “The extent of Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank and Gaza ” should be “determined by the quality of peace offered in return,” the Secretary said.


Regarding another point in Reagan’s initiative, which called on Israel to stop its settlements on the West Bank and Gaza, Shultz said: “While we support the right of Jews to live in peace in the West Bank and Gaza under the duly constituted governmental authority there — just as Arabs live in Israel — we regard the continuation of settlement activity prior to the conclusion of negotiations as detrimental to the peace process.”

Continuing, Shultz said: “The terrible cycle of death and suffering must end. The evacuation of the PLO from Beirut and the forceful demonstration of Israeli capability make this an altogether unique moment, a moment of opportunity to end this cycle. Triumphs and statecraft are decisions which join opportunity with action. If this opportunity is allowed to pass it may never come again.

The challenge Israel faces now is to combine diplomacy with power to build on enduring political political settlement. There is nothing that says that Palestinian self-government in association with Jordan must lead inevitably to a Palestinian state,” Shultz declared in a clear reference to the Israeli government’s main complaint that Reagan’s plan would inevitably lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.

“U.S. determination that concrete, ironclad arrangements for the security of Israel accompany the ultimate resolution of the Palestinian question is heightened, not diminished, by the fact that we have views on a desirable direction for the negotiations,” Shultz stated.

He contended that the President’s plan augments the Camp David accords. “The absence of Jordan and representatives of the Palestinian inhabitants of the occupied territories from the negotiations has been the missing link in the Camp David process,” the Secretary said, adding: “Success in the peace process depends on Arab support for these vital missing partners to join the negotiations and become partners for peace.”

Concluding, Shultz declared: “There is no need now to agree on any principle but one– that is the need to come together at the bargaining table. To talk. To talk about differences; to talk about aspirations, to talk about peace.”


While Shultz delivered his speech, some 100 demonstrators organized by Americans for a Safe Israel (ASI) were demonstrating outside, carrying placards with slogans protesting the President’s new initiative and chanting that the plan is a formula to destroy Israel. Shultz’s speech was delayed for one hour because a few persons without proper credentials tried to enter the room where the Secretary was to speak.

The security guards had to subdue a man who tried to enter and shouting, “Shultz is stabbing Israel in the back.” A spokesman for ASI said today that that person, whom he identified as Joseph Alster, was not a member of the ASI. The spokesman charged, however, that Alster was treated “brutally” by the guards and later needed some medical care. He said that Rabbi Avraham Weiss and Gerald Strober, two active members of ASI, came to Alster’s rescue but were shoved away by the guards.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund