CLEVELAND (Feb. 16)
Ambassador Richard Fairbanks, the Administration’s special negotiator for the Middle East peace process, denied that President Reagan is “seeking to impose a peace or dictate a settlement.” He spoke in response to charges made by a Notre Dame University Mideast expert, Prof. Alan Dowty, that Reagan’s Middle East initiative of last Sept. I was “leapfrogging” the Camp David peace process.
The criticism and response were expressed to more than 400 delegates from II national and III community organizations assembled at the four-day annual plenum of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC). The meeting opened here Sunday at Stouffer’s Inn On The Square.
Fairbanks maintained that the Reagan plan had “challenged the parties to the conflict to meet at the negotiating table” and that “Arab leaders are now talking about how to make peace with Israel — not whether.”
He said the “stream of Arab Kings, Presidents and Foreign Ministers” who have been to the White House to discuss the Reagan initiative, all received “the President’s unyielding message” that “the place to negotiate is at the table, face-to-face with Israel.” “That was the intent of the President when he launched his September 1st initiative,” Fairbanks said, calling the Reagan plan “fully within the Camp David formula.”
MIDEAST SPECIALIST CRITICAL OF REAGAN PLAN
Dowty, a specialist on Mideast affairs, sharply criticized the public pronouncements of a final arrangement contained in the Reagan initiative, which “forced both Israel and the Arabs to also react publicly instead of moving matters toward negotiations.” He warned that attempts to achieve a Mideast peace “all at one leap” with a “blueprint final formula” are doomed to fail. Instead, Dowty called for a gradual approach that sees “peace as a process” and that emphasizes a step-by-step approach as in the Camp David process.
Dowty also criticized the Administration’s current “unfair impatience with Israel” over the stalled Lebanon negotiations. He called on the Administration to “state the case” on the Lebanon negotiations by “avoiding setting deadlines” which “only give the message that no concessions are required from Arabs.”
CHERNIN SAYS U.S. POSTURE MANGLES CAMP DAVID
Albert Chernin, NJCRAC’s executive vice chairman, who gave the keynote address at the opening session, asserted that “the Camp David peace process sets forth a simple principle that no preconditions should be set as a basis for the parties to come to the negotiating table.” “All claims are legitimate and negotiable at an appropriate time as part of the process,” Chernin said. But, Chernin charged, “these principles may be mangled by the United States posture.”
Chernin charged that “Saudi Arabia exercises the veto over peace in the Middle East.” He asserted that “the Saudis have made it clear to (King) Hussein (of Jordan) that he cannot count on their financial support if he comes to the negotiating table,” and that “Lebanon has also been threatened with a denial of Saudi financing if it agrees to open borders and normalization with Israel.” “But the United States continues to accommodate the Saudis and cites Israel as the obstacle to reaching agreement in Lebanon and the West Bank,” Chernin said.