WASHINGTON (Jun. 14)
Sen. Paul Laxalt (R. Nev.) called last night for “closer consultation” between the United States and Israel, saying that past confrontations over policy decisions “should have been quietly resolved between two nations whose interests and people are so intertwined.”
Laxalt, who is President Reagan’s closest personal friend in Congress, said: “I know the President is interested in seeing this closer consultation and I am sure Israel’s government feels the same way …. It is time that we get on with it — let’s start talking more.”
Speaking to about 1,000 persons attending the 24th annual policy dinner of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) here, Laxalt warned that it is “dangerous and counterproductive to send misleading signals about our resolve and our intentions that could percipitate a most unfortunate miscalculation by Israel’s enemies.”
“We cannot have a yo-yo or roller coaster relationship with an ally and expect others, friends or foes, to consider us steadfast,” Laxalt said. “Israel, for its part, must realize that we might not automatically approve everything that she does.”
POLARIZATION NOT CENTRAL PROBLEM
Laxalt, general chairman of the Republican Party, described Israel as “a fiercely dedicated, strategically and valuable ally” that understands the dimensions of the Soviet threat in the Middle East. “To say that the central problem in the Middle East is the Arab-Israeli conflict and at the heart of that conflict is the Palestinian problem … I am convinced that premise is wrong.”
Sen. Christopher Dodd (D. Conn.), meanwhile, speaking at the same dinner, called Israel “a bonafide ally” that “should be treated as such. I don’t believe it serves us well or our cause to play games with an ally. We can have our debates and disagreements but it is those fundamental values of those prominent issues that bind us together particularly in our hour of need for allies,” Dodd said.
DODD STRESSES SENATE SUPPORT
Dodd assured the delegates that his colleagues in the Senate would guarantee Israel’s security. He said the U.S. must continue to work for the withdrawal of all external forces from Lebanon, adding, “I would hope that our European allies would join with us and Israel in calling for Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon.” He called on “moderate Arab powers” in the Middle East that “are truly committed to peace” to come forward and make a joint effort toward peace in the Middle East.
Meanwhile at the closing luncheon today of the 3-day AIPAC conference, House Majority leader Jim Wright (D. Tex.) assured 1300 delegates that the U.S. “will stay with you even when there may be superficial difficulties and differences that arise between Israel and the United States.”
Wright, who substituted for the ailing House Speaker, Thomas O’Neil (D. Mass.), who was the scheduled speaker, said: “Our relationship is permeated by so deep and fundamental a common cause and shared experience that those differences are as passages in the night and that our relationship will endure.”