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Bilateral Negotiations Still Key to Mideast Peace, Shultz Tells Hadassah

Secretary of State George Shultz discussed his “central theme” of foreign policy before the national convention of Hadassah here Monday evening, telling the 2,500 delegates that like their founder, Henrietta Szold, the United States must “remain engaged and involved in global affairs.”

Noting at the outset that “discussing engagement to American Jews is preaching to the choir,” Shultz said he was disturbed by signs that some Americans are “growing tired” of this commitment.

He offered an overview of why the United States must maintain its role as the active leader of freedom throughout the world, focusing on the Persian Gulf and the Mideast conflict, and offering warm praise for Israel as “our faithful ally and perpetual friend.”

The Secretary of State, who later received Hadassah’s highest honor, the Henrietta Szold Humanitarian Award, said that it is in American’s interests that Iran not dominate the other countries of the Persian Gulf and that the USSR not play an increasing role in the oil-rich region. “We need to stand up diplomatically there, and we are,” he said. “and we can’t allow ourselves to be pushed out.”

He said the U.S. will continue to be engaged in the Mideast peace effort, with the key being direct, bilateral negotiations. There is considerable work to do,” he said, “and it may never come to pass, but we must work on it.”

ISRAEL WANTS PEACE

Recalling the euphoria he sensed among Israelis following the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem a decade ago, Shultz asserted, “I know in my bones that Israel wants peace.” But he also emphasized several times in his 35-minute remarks that Jordan’s King Hussein wants peace as well. (Indeed, one veteran State Department official noted that “the most interesting thing about this speech was what he didn’t say — for instance, he never mentioned Syria.”)

Shultz said that the Administration agrees with Hussein that there should be Palestinian representation at the peace talks and that the Palestinians should be part of the Jordanian delegation. As for Soviet participation, Shultz said they “deserve a place at the peace table only if they act in a deserving way.” He called on Moscow to recognize Israel and enhance its treatment of Soviet Jews before seeking a role in peace negotiations. That statement was greeted with warm applause by the delegates of the world’s largest Zionist organization, who met at the Convention Center for four days this week.

While stressing American efforts to “minimize the risk,” Shultz said that “we know that doing nothing does not increase the chance for peace.” He said the U.S. is pledged “to harness the desire for peace.”

In praising Szold, a native of Baltimore, Shultz noted that she embodied what America believes in. “She understood,” he said, “that the world is not always a friendly place. She realized that those who are lucky enough to live in a democratic society can never turn their backs on those less fortunate.”

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