WASHINGTON (May. 25)
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee concluded its 28th annual policy conference last week after receiving a pledge by Democratic and Republican leaders that support for Israel will remain bipartisan.
“No longer can one political party take your vote for granted,” said Frank Donatelli, assistant to President Reagan for Political and Intergovernmental Affairs. “You support qualified candidates from both political parties. It’s a positive and healthy development.”
Donatelli, who brought regards from Reagan, said the Reagan Administration has strengthened ties with Israel by pushing for a Free Trade Agreement and establishing a closer political and military relationship. This was “in spite of prevailing orthodoxy in Congress” to cut back on defense, Donatelli said.
He said Israel and the U.S. are united by a common interest of resisting the threat posed by the Soviet Union.
But Paul Kirk, chairman of the National Democratic Committee, said defense of Israel is one of the basic principles of the Democratic Party.
“The party is committed to a strong Israel with secure defense borders which all the world will recognize as the rightful and peaceful homeland,” said Kirk, who recently returned from a trip to Israel.
The Democratic Party is also creating a “wall between our several churches and one single state,” Kirk said. “Any slurs of anti-Semitism and racism will not be tolerated in the campaign of 1988.”
Earlier, House Speaker Jim Wright (D. Texas) noted that the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a $3 billion aid package to Israel with-out cutting from last year’s budget.
“It is a clear indication of the priority the Congress attaches to this aid because almost all other discretionary programs in the budget are being reduced next year,” Wright said.
Wright said the U.S. campaign against terrorism was “dealt a severe blow” by the Reagan Administration’s sale of arms to Iran. “As Israel knows well, paying off terrorists is no way to curb terrorism,” he said.