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U.S. ‘hot and Cold’ Policy Toward Israel is Cited As a Major Obstacle to Mideast Peace

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America’s continued “hot and cold” policy toward Israel and the dominant pro-Arab voices in the State Department were described here tonight as obstacles to achieving lasting peace in the Middle East.

In remarks prepared for delivery to the Synagogue Council of America’s annual Covenant of Peace Award dinner, Rabbi Mordecai Waxman, Council president, said “We are disturbed by the hot and cold policy which successive American Administrations have followed in relation to Israel — allies and friends must be consistent in their behavior.”

The Conservative Jewish leader asserted that “the back and forth shifts, the approval and disapproval, the friendly today and not very friendly tomorrow U.S. attitude must end. American Presidents must stop listening to pro-Arabists in the State Department and adopt a long-range policy which will involve Israel as an ally in the search for a durable peace.”

Waxman felt that American policy of recent years, whether described as “even-handedness or re-evaluation, has served to prevent stability in the Middle East and has been harmful to any peace process.” He cited as a recent example the U.S. refusal to accept Israel’s “humanitarian offer” to provide hospital care for those marines wounded in the Beirut bombing October 23.

He added that the need for a binding and firm relationship with Israel in no way implies that “America should not seek to have good relations with various Arab nations, nor that it be totally uncritical of Israeli policy.” Despite these reservations, Waxman stated that American Jews were “grateful” for the assistance that past administrations have provided Israel over the years.

HABIB CITES NEED FOR MIDEAST PEACE PLAN

Philip Habib, President Reagan’s former special representative for the Middle East, said in a prepared statement that the current U.S. preoccupation in attempting to resolve the day-to-day crisis in Lebanon has created the impression that the U.S. “appears to have abandoned the peace process in favor of resolving a crisis.”

“The current crisis must be dealt with,” he said, “unless it is overcome it will be difficult to get back on the road to peace.” Habib said that the present Lebanese dilemma appears difficult to resolve, however, he believed that this can be accomplished during the next few months.

He stressed that U.S. foreign policy “must contain a peace plan for the Middle East; U.S. interests require a peace process.” Habib added that “without a plan for peace such rational Arab states as Egypt and Jordan cannot move towards the peace table.” The U.S. diplomat felt that any American long-range peace plan for the Middle East should still be based on the Camp David agreements and the proposals set forth in September 1982 by Reagan.

The Synagogue Council of America, which represents the congregational and rabbinic bodies of Conservative, Orthodox and Reform Judaism, presented its Covenant of Peace Awards to Habib, AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland, and philanthropist Max Fisher.

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