NEW YORK (Jul. 31)
Morris Abram, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, charged Thursday that “some people” in the Reagan Administration, “appear determined to weaken” the “de facto alliance that exists today between Israel and the United States.” Speaking at a press conference at the Presidents Conference’s headquarters here, Abram, who assumed the chairmanship of the Conference July 1, said that those elements in the “American government bureaucracy” who attempt to undermine the good relations between Jerusalem and Washington “do so by leaks, by false charges, by manipulating the media.”
He said that those responsible for the leaks are “lower echelon” officials in the Justice Department and the Customs Bureau, a branch of the Treasury Department.
Abram cited the recent case when NBC-News camera crews accompanied Customs agents who showed up at a warehouse in Upstate New York to investigate the possible illegal acquisition by Israel of technology for tank cannon barrels, as an example of the charges he made.
Citing another example, Abram stated: “Recently some people in the Justice Department–not Attorney General (Edwin) Meese, I want to make clear–made public, even before Israel was notified, an investigation of a non-existent plan for the illegal export of equipment to Israel used to manufacture cluster bombs. The embarrassment of our government was reflected in its apology to Israel for this outrageous and unauthorized conduct.”
HIGH-RANKING OFFICIALS NOT INVOLVED
Abram stressed, however, a number of times, that those who try to damage Israeli-American ties “are not high-ranking government officials,” adding: “I believe their attempts to disrupt the U.S. Israel relationship are embarrassing to the Administration as they are annoying to Israel.”
Abram disclosed that he recently met with Meese who “made it clear he opposed the leaks” against Israel and noted that the source of the leaks in the Justice Department were low-ranking officials.
Abram has just returned from a five-day visit to Israel, where he met with Premier Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister and Deputy Premier Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister and Deputy Premier Yitzhak Shamir and “virtually” the entire Cabinet. He was accompanied on the trip by Malcolm Hoenlein, the recently appointed executive director of the Presidents Conference.
UNPRECEDENTED ISRAELI-U.S. FRIENDSHIP
“The overwhelming impression of my visit to Israel, and the conversations with Administration officials in Washington that I had immediately before my departure, was that the leaders of each country feel a degree of friendship, trust and closeness with the other that is both remarkable and unprecedented in the history of U.S.-Israel relations,” Abram said.
“I should add that, on the Israeli side, this sentiment was expressed to us not only by the leaders of the present government but by those who will assume higher office when the ‘rotation’ agreement takes effect (as I believe it will) in October.”
Continuing, he stated: “I came to this conclusion despite–or, indeed, because–of the so-called ‘blips’ in that relationship that we all know about: the Pollard case, the difference of views on the Lavi aircraft, the charges about cluster bombs, etc. What is truly significant, in my judgment, is that neither of the two countries will let these differences threaten or jeopardize the relationship that exists.”
Abram said that a meeting between the Presidents Conference and Vice President George Bush will be held in Washington on August 12. He also said that Meese will address a meeting of the Conference in New York next week.