NEW YORK (Sep. 20)
Former Vice President Walter Mondale urged today that the United States forge an “effective strategic agreement with Israel to restrain the Soviets and their proxies” in Lebanon,
Addressing a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations here, Mondale, a candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1984, blasted the Reagan Administration’s Middle East stance and charged that the administration has no policy in Lebanon. He claimed the Administration harbored “illusions” in the region.
He listed these as the belief that Saudi Arabia is a moderating force; that King Hussein of Jordan will enter negotiations with Israel; and that Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon would be followed by Syria’s withdrawal from that country.
“We have troops in Lebanon but no policy there,” Mondale declared, stating what he believed American goals there should be. The U.S. should not accept Syrian domination of that country, he said. It should not tolerate wanton attacks on the marines. It should work for a compromise between the various factions to broaden the government of President Amin Gemayel and then forge an “effective strategic agreement with Israel to restrain the Soviets and their proxies.”
Mondale charged that in the past year the Reagan Administration has pressured Israel alone on the issue of Lebanon and “took the heat off Syria.” The result, he said, is that Syrian troops are still in Lebanon and PLO chief Yasir Arafat is back there as well.
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Mondale was the second Democratic Presidential aspirant to appear before the Presidents Conference and his remarks were highly favorable to Israel. He said he believed the U.S. should move its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem because Jerusalem is Israel’s “undivided capital.”
He said he did not believe Jewish settlements on the West Bank are illegal, asserting that the fate of the settlements will be determined only when negotiations are resumed within the Camp David framework.
Mondale also expressed opposition to the sale of sophisticated weapons by the U.S. to Arab countries because the introduction of such weapons will only accelerate the arms race in the Middle East, If the Arabs are sold sophisticated weapons, the U.S. has to provide Israel with arms to defend itself against them, he said. Mondale called for good relations between the U.S. and the Arab countries, “but not at the expense of Israel,” which he called a strategic asset to the U.S.
Asked if he supported a statement by Sen. John Glenn (D. Ohio), a rival for the Democratic Presidential nomination, who said in New York last week that the U.S. should end its even-handed policy in the Middle East and tilt openly in Israel’s favor, Mondale replied, “I have never had to redefine my attitude.” He stressed that as a Senator from Minnesota and later as Vice President in the Carter Administration, he was always a staunch supporter of Israel.