NEW YORK (Jun. 4)
Former Vice President Walter Mondale and Sen. Gary Hart (D. Col.) rejected last night the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s contention that the United States favors Israel to the detriment of its relations with the Arab countries.
The three Democratic Presidential contenders repeated their positions on the Middle East in response to questions from NBC’s Tom Brokow in the last nationally televised debate of the primary campaign. They were in California for the debate, one of five states holding primaries Tuesday, the last primaries before the Democratic National Convention opens in San Francisco July 16.
Jackson, who said too much attention had been paid to the Middle East in the campaign while other areas such as Asia and Africa had been ignored, reiterated his position that the U.S. in the Mideast has “too many interests and too few friends.” He said Israel’s friends should not only seek to provide Israel with aid but to “get Israel’s enemies to stop being her enemies. That means having leadership that’s bold enough and courageous to meet with all forces.”
Mondale and Hart asserted the problem in the Mideast has been that except for the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat the Arab countries have refused Israel’s right to exist.
“It is not as if we haven’t talked to Israel’s enemies,” Hart said. “We have armed them,” He said Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries “now possess very sophisticated American military equipment.”
Mondale said that the “greatest mistake” the U.S. can make in the Mideast is to accept the “notion that only by somehow pressuring Israel, by expressing some kind of tentative relationship between the United States and Israel” peace can be achieved.
Noting that he participated in the Camp David talks during the Carter Administration, Mondale declared, “It was only when it was clear that the United States was unequivocally supporting Israel and their Arab neighbors had to make peace with that permanent nation” that Sadat decided to negotiate with Israel. He said Sadat demonstrated the path for the other Arab leaders to take.