NEW YORK (Mar. 21)
Declaring that he was “distressed” over recent declarations by President Reagan with regard to United States’ support for Israel, Mayor Edward Koch charged Reagan with having “repudiated” his previously stated positions on the critical issues of Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Speaking to some 75 members of the American Jewish Heritage Committee at the Westbury Hotel here, Koch said that the September 1 peace initiative outlined by the President was a change of previous policy as enunciated by Reagan as a presidential candidate in 1980 when he sought the vote of the Jewish community.
According to Koch, Reagan had stated that the future status of the West Bank was subject to negotiations and that Jerusalem was the undivided capital of the Jewish State. Koch said the peace initiative puts Jerusalem’s status back on the negotiating table while the West Bank “is the Arabs’.”
“He has repudiated in effect what his positions were before he was elected,” Koch charged. The Reagan initiative calls for “full autonomy” under some sort of Jordanian supervision for Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza Strip and also for negotiations to bring about an “undivided” Jerusalem.
ASSAILS WEINBERGER, CARTER
But Koch, in the course of his one-hour briefing last week with the Heritage Committee on his recent visit to Israel, saved his harshest criticism for former President Jimmy Carter and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who Koch said was “hostile” to Israel, and “anti-Israel.”
The New York Mayor, who describes himself as a “firm, full supporter of the State of Israel,” attributed Weinberger’s view toward Israel as having been an influential force on the change he perceived in Reagan’s approach to Israel. Reagan, Koch said, “delegates a lot of authority. In this case, he delegated it to the wrong person.”
But in response to questions, Koch said that while both Weinberger and Secretary of State George Shultz have similar backgrounds, having worked for the Bechtel Corp., a San Francisco based engineering firm with extensive business contracts in the Arab world, Shultz “is not in the same category” as Weinberger. He said Shultz “has a good open mind” and is more open to be persuaded that U.S. support of Israel is in the interests of the United States.
Carter was accused by Koch of making overtures to the American Jewish community for political purposes during the 1980 political elections only to “renounce” those positions after he lost the Presidential election and then going back, to what the mayor called, “being Jimmy Carter.”
“I perceive him as someone whose word you can never rely on … and he lied to the Jewish community in the U.S.,” Koch said. He said that because of his changing positions on the Middle East, Carter is now disliked by both Arabs and Jews.
Koch also pointed out that while he was a firm supporter of Israel, he did not agree with all the policies of the government of Premier Menachem Begin. He said, for example, that he would recommend Israel negotiate with the PLO if they would renounce terrorism and meet the conditions set down by the United States for a U.S.-PLO dialogue.