Menu JTA Search

Shamir Returning to Israel with ‘feelings of Achievement and Promise’

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

At the conclusion of his first official visit to the United States as Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir said today that he returns to Jerusalem” with feelings of achievement and promise.”

Addressing the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations here, just before he flew back to Israel, Shamir said that the talks he had in Washington with President Reagan and other members of the Administration were “friendly, open and businesslike. We found a strong desire to cement the relationship between our two countries in a concrete and comprehensive manner.”

The Premier said that he found recognition in Washington for the fact that Israel is “a major factor for stability” in the Mideast and a true ally of the United States in the face of Arab instability and “of totalitarian aggression,” instigated by the Soviet Union.

Shamir said that Israel’s economic problems, which he described as inflation and a growing deficit in the country’s balance of payments, receive an open ear in Washington. He said the United States agreed to establish “a free trade area with Israel,” a situation that might increase meaningfully Israeli exports to the U.S.

He said that Washington also agreed to increase the grant level of the total aid package Israel receives from the U.S. “The details are being now negotiated,” Shamir said. He also said the U.S. agreed to purchase arms manufactured by Israel.

COMMON OBJECTIVES IN LEBANON

Turning to the situation in Lebanon, Shamir said:” Our close consultations have highlighted the fact that we share common objectives (with the U.S.) in the Lebanese situation. We want to deter and check Syrian annexationist designs on Lebanon and Syrian aggression backed by the Soviets. The U.S. and Israel will tighten cooperation with the view to implementing the Israel-Lebanon agreement of May 1983, strengthening the Lebanese government and securing the withdrawal of the Syrian army and the PLO terrorists from Lebanese territory.”

Shamir said that his talks in Washington also dealt with ways to resume the now frozen peace process in the Mideast. “The peace treaty with Egypt is the cornerstone of the peace process,” he said, but he warned that if Egypt continues with its present policy of stalemate “the Israelis will have doubts regarding the willingness of any Arabs to make peace with Israel.”

The Premier said the issue of Israeli settlements in Judaea and Samaria was also brought up during the talks in Washington. Administration officials “said they have different views on the issue of settlements. We expressed our view. There are different opinions on the issue. But they were overshadowed by the issues we agreed upon,” the Israeli leader said.

URGES U.S. JEWS TO SETTLE IN ISRAEL

Last night Shamir addressed more than 1,000 people, many of them who plan to go and settle in Israel, at a meeting at Kehilat Jeshurun Synagogue here organized by the American Zionist Youth Foundation and the Aliya Department of the Jewish Agency.

In his speech Shamir called on American Jews to come and settle in Israel. “Our ancient land is waiting for its sons and daughters to come back home and close the cycle of history,” Shamir declared. “For Israel must be not only the great haven and sanctuary it has been for Jews in our generation — equally it must be a powerful magnet, drawing idealists and practical souls alike, to the transcendent mission of national re-affirmation.”

He continued: “Only in Israel can a Jew live his life fully in harmony with his culture, tradition, national consciousness. No time for delay remains. Israel needs you. You need Israel.”

He also said that a substantial increase in Israel’s population “will go a long way toward building an economic, industrial and military infrastructure of such dimensions that will deter and prevent our enemies from undertaking or even considering a military adventure against Israel.”

Earlier today, before addressing the Presidents Conference, Shamir was the guest of honor as former European Parliament President Simone Veil, Helen Jackson, representing her late husband Senator Henry Jackson, and a representative of the losif Begun family received the Jabotinsky Prize at a ceremony at the Helmsley Palace Hotel.

Former Premier Menachem Begin was awarded a special Jabotinsky Prize and Shamir accepted it on his behalf. Begin donated the $100,000 award to educational purposes.

In brief remarks at the end of the ceremony Shamir praised Begin and the other recipients of the prize. He said that Begin’s major achievements as Premier were the peace treaty with Egypt; the policy of settlements in Judaea, Samaria and the Gaza District; large-scale social projects undertaken in Israel; and the Peace for Galilee operation “to strengthen Israel’s security.”

NEXT STORY