WASHINGTON (May. 29)
Sen. Gary Hart (D. Col.) said last night he was opposed to Israel selling arms to South Africa and to the United States providing Saudi Arabia and other enemies of Israel with sophisticated weapons.
Hart’s comments were made in response to questions on a telephone call-in program from Newark, N.J., broadcast nationally by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
“I don’t believe that the Israelis ought to be exporting arms to South Africa,” Hart said. “I certainly don’t believe any arms coming from this country to Israel whether under grants or under sale, should make their way to South Africa. “
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who appeared on the call-in program Saturday night, accused Israel of selling arms to South Africa which he charged are being used by the South Africans “to shoot down and oppress Black people there.”
Vice President Walter Mondale, in his appearance on the PBS program Sunday night, was not asked about the issue. All three candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination are campaigning in New Jersey for the June 5 primary there.
STATEMENT BY ISRAELI EMBASSY
Asked about the charges by Hart and Jackson, Victor Harel, the Israel Embassy spokesman, said that Israel’s opposition to South Africa’s apartheid policy has been stated by many of its leaders. He said that Israel “complies” with United Nations resolutions barring supply of weapons to South Africa. Harel added that Israel, as a matter of policy, does not ship any American-made weapons to any other country without the knowledge and approval of the U.S.
On Saudi Arabia, Hart noted that he had opposed selling the desert kingdom F-15 aircraft under the Carter Administration as well as AWACS under the Reagan Administration. While he did not mention directly the shipment of Stinger aircraft missiles to the Saudis, Hart said, “The Saudis are supporting efforts to overthrow our traditional ally, Israel. We cannot be arming Israel’s enemies while we are committed to a policy of support for Israel’s existence….”
However, at a press conference in Franklin, Township, N.J., earlier in the day, Hart said he opposed the Administration’s decision to make available Stinger missiles to Saudi Arabia. He said he was concerned that such missiles could fall into “the wrong hands.”
SOLUTION TO ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT
On the PBS program, Hart stressed that the Arab-Israeli conflict can only be solved through negotiations. “The only way the tragedy in the Middle East is going to be resolved is at the negotiating table,” he said, “and not by force of arms, not by Palestinian organizations threatening to destroy Israel and drive it into the sea and having covenants that are based on the premise that Israel does not have the right to exist.”
Hart said the Camp David accords provide a “framework” under which Israel and its Arab neighbors, particularly Jordan and Saudi Arabia, can come to the negotiating table and reach an agreement on secure borders for Israel “and some permanent status for the Palestinian people. The United States cannot dictate terms of that agreement,” Hart said. “We must be the party that brings the other parties together.”
Hart also said that the future status of Israel’s settlements on the West Bank must also be left to negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors. “Once this country starts dictating terms, and the Reagan Administration did that in 1982, then we are already losing our bargaining leverage in getting the parties to the table,” he said.
“Once we begin to say how the negotiations has to turn out then the parties in the region will turn their backs on the process because the heavy hand of the United States government will be over the negotiations.” His reference to 1982 was to Reagan’s Middle East peace initiative announced on September 1, 1982. But Hart added, he hopes that if negotiations begin, Israel will demonstrate “maximum flexibility” in return for secure borders.