SAN FRANCISCO (Dec. 15)
Republican Senator-elect Pete Wilson, in what is believed to have been his first major policy address on the Middle East conflict since defeating Governor Jerry Brown in the general elections runoff last month, has indicated here that he will be a strong supporter of Israel when he takes office in Washington as a member of the 98th Congress.
Describing Israel as a “great ally” of the United States, Wilson said it was time for negotiations toward settlement of the Mideast conflict. But he rejected the idea that peace negotiations should involve the Palestine Liberation Organization.
“Those who now say we must enter a time of negotiations are right, but let us be clear that we will not negotiate with gangsters, that either the U.S. nor Israel should ever be expected to entreat with the PLO,” Wilson told some 500 persons attending the annual Chanukah dinner of the San Francisco region of the Jewish National Fund.
Wilson accused Israel’s friends in the United States or being too quick to blame Israel for involvement in the massacre of Palestinian civilians in the Shatila and Sabra refugee camps last September. Calling the massacre “tragic,” the Senator-elect declared: “Quite properly, Jews and non-Jews in Israel and in the U.S. called for an investigation. It was not and is not proper to prejudge the evidence …. It would not make sense for this country to react or overreact by saying we will cut military and financial aid to Israel.”
SAYS U.S. SHOULD STICK BY ISRAEL
“For those who counsel that unwise course, I would simply say they are ignorant of history, that they are ignorant of the nature of this lone democracy in that part of the world, ” he said.”It is clearly in the interest of the U.S. to honor a moral obligation.”
“It is also in our naked, cold blooded, selfish interests to see to it that our great ally continues to offer to the U.S. only real hope that we enjoy of a strong determined ally — one that has bested the Soviets in tactics and weaponry in the hands of their Syrian and PLO deputies in Lebanon,” Wilson, who will step down from his position as Mayor of San Diego on January 2 to be sworn into office the following day, told the audience.
As a member of the Armed Services Committee, a position he was named to last week by the Senate Republican leadership, Wilson also indicated he is interested in hearing how the Israel Defense Force was able to destroy Soviet-made weaponry used by the Syrians and “deal a smashing defeat to the PLO.”