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Reagan Affirms That the U.S. ‘would Never Forsake Israel’

President Reagan declared yesterday that neither his nor any future American Administration “would ever forsake Israel.” Reagan’s remarks were made in response to a question at a briefing for Hispanic labor and religious editors on his feelings about Israel.

“I would have to tell you that I believe, and this is not just our Administration, but since 1948 when Israel became a nation, the policy of the United States government of the Democratic and Republican Presidents has been one of alliance with Israel and assurance of Israel’s continuation as a state,” Reagan replied. “And I don’t think that any American Administration would ever forsake Israel.”

DEFENDS SEPTEMBER 1982 INITIATIVE

The President said that “this is one of the reasons” for the peace plan he proposed September I, 1982. He noted that after peace between Egypt and Israel was achieved. “it was my belief that what we should do is start working with the Arab nations to see among them we could not first bring their recognition of the right of Israel to exist and then see if we could not create additional Egypts, nations that would enter into a peace treaty, because no nation can go on having to maintain the military stature that Israel does. When you stop to think that the 500 men that they lost in the fighting in Lebanon, if that was the United States proportionately, that would have been more than 30,000 dead.”

U.S. WOULD NEVER NEGOTIATE WITH THE PLO

Reagan continued: “Economically, the strain on them is so great that the answer to their problem must be peace, and peace can only come when … all the other nations recognize the right of this nation to exist. This is one of the reasons why we would never negotiate with the PLO because they openly said they denied the right of Israel to be a nation. Their dream was of driving them into the sea. And we said ‘How can we talk to someone who believes that way?”

Reagan concluded that “the Lebanese situation has to be cleared up and the foreign forces all get out of Lebanon before we would proceed with these peace talks. I am still optimistic that we are going to be able to bring this about. And we’ll continue to try.”

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