WASHINGTON (Feb. 2)
President Reagan and his top aides told 150 Jewish leaders from the United States and around the world today that the Administration has ruled out the threat of sanctions against Israel in its efforts to speed up negotiations in Lebanon.
"There will be no pressure on Israel," Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress said after a meeting at the White House today between Reagan and members of the WJC Governing Board, now holding its biennial meeting here; the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; and Republican Jewish leaders.
"The Administration is committed not to put pressure on Israel; no sanctions, no pressure, nothing like that," Bronfman said after the group heard a 50-minute speech from Reagan followed by a discussion in the White House State Room between the Jewish leaders, Robert McFarlane of the National Security Council, and Richard Fairbanks, the President’s special envoy for the autonomy negotiations. The meeting was closed to the press. The White House later released a transcript of Reagan’s remarks.
Julius Berman, chairman of the Presidents Conference, said sanctions were also ruled out during a 20-minute meeting held in the Oval Office just before the main meeting between Reagan and his senior advisors and Bronfman, Berman, Albert Spiegel, chairman of the National Republican Jewish Coalition, and Rabbi Moses Rosen, Chief Rabbi of Rumania.
CITES ‘ASSUMPTION’ BY REAGAN
Berman stressed that there was a need to "speed up" the Lebanese negotiations since the President felt the lack of progress there was holding up the overall peace process. Berman said there is an "assumption" by the President, based on Administration talks with King Hussein of Jordan, that Hussein will come into the peace negotiations once there is an agreement on the withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon.
Reagan indicated that Hussein was not demanding a freeze on Israeli settlements on the West Bank as a condition for his joining the talks, but that none be built while the negotiations were going on according to Berman.
REAGAN NOTES NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEACE
In his speech, Reagan noted that the "events of the past year" in Lebanon "have created new opportunities for peace that must not be lost." The President stressed that "its vital to the United States, to Israel, and to all those who yearn for an end to the killing that we not let these current opportunities pass by."
Reagan also noted that the U.S. and Israel share the same goals in Lebanon — a speedy withdrawal of all foreign forces, a strong central government for Lebanon and "full and effective guarantees" that southern Lebanon will no longer be used as a staging ground for terrorist attacks against Israel.
Berman noted that in the Oval Office meeting Reagan emphasized that the U.S. lacks "credibility" with the Arabs who do not believe the U.S. did not have a role in Israel’s operation "Peace for Galilee." He said for this reason the Arabs do not believe the U.S. cannot get Israel to do what Washington wants.
PRESIDENT DEFENDS HIS PEACE INITIATIVE
Reagan in his speech stressed that his September 1 peace initiative is "based on an historic U.S. commitment to Israel’s security" and reaffirms "the Camp David accords which deems that peace must bring security to Israel and provide for the legitimate rights of the Palestinians." He declared that "Israel and Arab leaders must take the necessary risks for peace to take root and bloom if we are to succeed. It is riskier to do nothing, to let this time pass with no tangible sign of progress."
Reagan again called for "great courage and some risk" by both sides. "Israel must be prepared to engage in serious negotiations over the West Bank and Gaza," he said. "As I stated previously, the most significant action demonstrating Israel’s good faith would be a settlements freeze. On the other hand. King Hussein should step forward ready to negotiate peace directly with Israel."
Reagan stressed that "America’s commitment to Israel remains strong and enduring." He noted that "We’ve had disagreements as would be expected between friends, even between good friends. Our friendship continues, however, and it should be no doubt that America’s commitment to Israel remains as it always has been."
Berman told reporters that he stressed to the President that the press has made these differences into confrontations and the perception has developed that Israel is blocking efforts towards peace. He said the truth is that Israel is ready to come to the negotiating table without pre-conditions, unlike the Arab "confrontation" states.
Bronfman, who spoke to reporters separately, had high praises for Reagan. He said as a "good American, I am very proud of my President. As a Jew I think the President’s position is very well stated." He said Reagan has a "very deep and unbinding respect and love for the Jewish people and the State of Israel. I think he is sometimes misunderstood in terms of what he is trying to accomplish. But I think that what he is trying to accomplish is peace in the Middle East."
REAGAN MUST NOT ALLOW NAZISM TO RECUR
Reagan opened his speech by noting that "this week marks the 50th anniversary of Adolph Hitler’s rise to power. It’s incumbent upon us all, Jews and gentiles alike, to remember the tragedy of Nazi Germany, to recall how a fascist regime conceived in hatred brought a reign of terror and atrocity on the Jewish people and on the world, and to pledge that never again will the decent people of the world permit such a thing to occur. Never again can people of conscience overlook the rise of anti-Semitism in silence."
The President said that Americans "can be proud" that a Holocaust memorial is being built in Washing- ton and noted that the Gathering of American Holocaust survivors scheduled for Washington in April "should touch the heart of every American." But he noted that anti-Semitism is continuing and that "even in the free world" the fight is "not yet won."
PLEDGES TO CONTINUE STRUGGLE FOR SOVIET JEWRY
The President also pledged to continue the struggle for Soviet Jewry. He said that at the Helsinki review conference, the U.S. is making it clear to the Soviet leadership that "We’ve had enough of words. There is no better way for them to begin (to improve relations with the West) than by releasing the Prisoners of Conscience in Siberia and restoring Jewish emigration to the levels of the late 1970s. And I might add they could give us an accounting of one of mankind’s true heroes, Raoul Wallenberg."