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Hart: West Bank Settlements Are Not an Obstacle to Peace

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Sen. Gary Hart declared today that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank “are not an obstacle to peace,” that if elected President he would move the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “as soon as possible,” and that he would not sell sophisticated American military hardware to Israel’s enemies.

The Colorado Democratic Presidential hopeful made these points in a very strong pro-Israel address to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations here. His speech was interrupted a number of times with enthusiastic applause by the Jewish leaders, representing 37 organizations.

Claiming that he offers “not rhetoric, but deep personal commitments,” the Senator, who opened his New York campaign last night, outlined an eight-point statement describing “where a Hart Administration will stand on the matter vital to Israel’s survival.” The points are:

WILL STAND FIRMLY WITH ISRAEL

* “First, we will stand firmly with Israel — on difficult issues as well as easy ones,” stressing that his voting record in the last 10 years in the Senate shows that he supported Israel on all vital issues.

* “Second, we will oppose the sale of high technology war systems to the enemies of Israel.” He noted that he strongly opposed President Reagan’s proposal to sell Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Jordan.

* “Third, the linchpin of my policy in the Mideast will be the special relationship that binds the United States and Israel. I will not hide this relationship or apologize for it to any Arab state. The Hart Administration will not cater to the changing whims of King Hussein. The only thing that never seems to change is his refusal to negotiate.”

* “Fourth, under my Administration, true, not phony, strategic cooperation will develop between the United States and Israel,” recalling that he called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. “I pledge to you that no one like him will write Mideast policy in my Administration,” Hart declared to the sustained applause of the audience.

* “Fifth, I commit myself to the full implementation of the Camp David accords. I reject the basic elements of the 1982 Reagan Mideast plan because they can only undermine the Camp David framework for negotiations and peace.” Hart added: “I reject pre-conditions, I reject any predetermination of the ultimate sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza. I reject any predetermination of the status of Israeli settlements in the region.”

Referring to the issue of Jerusalem, he declared: “Above all, I reject the impression of the Reagan plan that somehow the integrity and sovereignty of Jerusalem is open to a bartering process. As I said before AIPAC last spring, ‘I support the traditional position of Israel on Jerusalem, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. As President, I will move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

Later, at the question and answer period, Hart was asked how soon he would move the American Embassy to Jerusalem if elected. He replied, smiling: “As soon as possible.” Asked if he considered the settlements an “obstacle to peace,” a claim often made by Reagan, he replied: “The settlements do not represent a threat to peace negotiations and are not an obstacle to peace. They are as legal as any other settlements.”

ISSUE OF A PALESTINIAN ENTITY

* “Sixth, a Hart Administration will work to revitalize the terms of the Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt,” because, he explained, there is no peace between the two nations but “merely the absence of war.”

He added: “The issue of a Palestinian entity on Israel’s borders can only be resolved in full consideration of Israel’s security needs.” He said that his Administration will not negotiate with the PLO until it renounced terrorism, recognized Israel and accepted all pertinent United Nations resolutions.

* “Seventh, we must make ourselves energy independent so America will never again be subject to Arab blackmail. Israel’s security and America’s economy must no longer be mortgaged to oil sheiks in the Persian Gulf.”

* Finally, the Senator pledged, “The fate of three million Soviet Jews, many of whom wish to immigrate to Israel and the United States, will be a high priority of my Presidency. I will dedicate myself to policies that can liberate them.” He said he would also “bring the world back from the brink of nuclear confrontation, the hallmark of Reagan’s stance with his “bellicose policies toward the Soviet Union.”

Hart’s appearance before the Presidents Conference was part of a series of appearances by other Democratic Presidential hopefuls, including some who have dropped out of the race, who addressed the Conference previously.

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