NEW YORK (Oct. 22)
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D. Mass.) assured 750 guests at the Weizmann Institute of Science annual national dinner that President Reagan’s proposed arms sale to Jordan would not be approved by the Senate.
With the Senate’s wide support of legislation sponsored by Kennedy and John Heinz (R. Pa.) to block the sale of advanced weapons to Jordan “until that nation agrees to negotiate with Israel” –a proposal which gained support of 73 Senators when it was introduced last Friday — Kennedy declared Sunday night that the resolution was “veto-proof.”
“We do not seek a confrontation with the Reagan Administration, but neither can we stand silent while that Administration pursues a course that could endanger Israel and its people in a future confrontation in the Middle East,” Kennedy said in his keynote address to the national dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
He asserted that a Mideast peace policy is contingent on a reduction of missiles and bombs aimed at Israel. ” Instead of trafficking recklessly in numbers like F-15s, F-16s, and F-20s,” the Administration “should be tirelessly pursuing the two most important numbers for the Middle East — United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338,” the Senator said.
PLO IS NOT A FIT PARTNER FOR PEACE PROCESS
Kennedy, who advocates Israeli-Jordanian peace negotiations, charged that the PLO “is not a fit partner for the peace process” and called on King Hussein of Jordan to “stop talking about peace in the abstract, and start talking directly with Israel” without bringing to the negotiating table “killers, kidnappers, or members of the PLO sworn to destroy the State of Israel.”
He cited the recent hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship and the murder of Leon Klinghoffer as examples of PLO terrorism, and praised President Reagan for doing “what it takes to arrest and punish the international criminals of the PLO.”
Turning toward what Kennedy termed a “quieter form of terrorism,” he pledged himself to the “moral obligation of working on behalf of the Soviet Jews.” Noting that Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union has reached its lowest level in a decade and that persecution of Hebrew teachers and dissidents has become more intense in the USSR, Kennedy called on Reagan to “make the case for justice and human rights and an end to religious persecution by the Kremlin” during his talks in Geneva next month with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Israeli Premier Shimon Peres, in New York for the 40th anniversary of the UN, briefly addressed the gathering in a surprise appearance, and thanked Kennedy for a “magnificent speech.”
Prof. Michael Sela, who will be stepping down from his position as president of the Weizmann Institute after a 10-year tenure, received the Weizmann Medallion Award for a decade of leadership. Milton Petrie, honorary chairman of the dinner and chief executive of the Petrie Stores Corporation, was honored for a lifetime of devotion to furthering scientific and medical research. He received the Weizmann Sciences and Humanities Award.
The black-tie benefit dinner, sponsored by the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science, marked the launching of the Institute’s second half-century of scientific research.
Commenting on this, Kennedy said: “When Chaim Weizmann planted the seeds of the Institute, he dreamed that a great research center would flourish in Israel and bring world acclaim to the Jewish State. And his dream has been fulfilled a thousand-fold.”