WASHINGTON (Jan. 7)
Secretary of State George Shultz said Thursday in his 1988 “State of the State Department” speech that the U.S.-Israel relationship is solid.
“Israel is a democratic country seeking stability and peace and the ability to pursue its destiny, and we support that country and we support those objectives and we work closely with Israel,” Shultz said.
“Problems come up from time to time; we resolve those problems. Occasionally we disagree, but through all of that this relationship, as I said, is unshakable.”
The secretary said the U.S. vote Tuesday in favor the United Nations Security Council resolution criticizing Israeli deportation of Palestinians form the administered territories should not be interpreted “as meaning anything else. In fact, I suppose the ability to differ occasionally with a friend shows the depths of that friendship.”
Shultz did, however, reiterate his opposition to Israel’s use of “lethal means” to maintain law and order.
He also repeated his call for direct peace negotiations between Israel and Arab countries and support of an international pace conference that would lead to direct negotiations. “The whole history of the Middle East shows that violence — terrorism, war — just has not worked,” Shultz said. “…It is negotiations that work.”
Shultz met for an hour Wednesday with Morris Abram, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and other Jewish leaders to discuss developments regarding Soviet Jewry that occurred at the summit meetings here last month between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
The National Conference of Soviet Jewry (NCSJ), which Abram also chairs, presented Shultz with its 1987 year-end analysis of the situation. It notes that 8,155 Jews left the Soviet Union in 1987 compared to 914 in 1986, but far less than the 51,320 exiting in 1979.
It also points out the de-emphasis of the Soviet requirement of a request by first-degree family abroad in order to receive an exit visa.
But it declares that the “Soviet Union is alone among major developed nations” in routinely denying emigration requests because of knowledge of state secrets.
Other developments the report cites include the opening of the first kosher take-out restaurant in Moscow in decades and the sanctioning of Hebrew courses in Baku, a city in the Republic of Azerbaijan.
It also mentions the first symposium ever held in the Soviet Union — in Moscow — on the emigration process for Soviet Jews.
But it also criticizes the KGB’s crackdown on a Soviet Jewry rally in Moscow preceding the Washington summit meetings.
Overall, the report expresses the NCSJ’s uncertainty whether “these limited developments” signal a real Soviet policy modification. “At best, despite some positive and welcome changes, the measures taken in 1987 serve to highlight the fundamental problems which Soviet Jews continue to face.”
Abram said afterward that Shultz expressed disappointment in “the failure to have advanced the emigration figures substantially and in the failure of the Soviets to give relief to the large number of secrecy cases.”
But, he continued, “the secretary of state and the president are making an ultimate effort in this field.” Shultz, according to Abram, told them that Soviet Jewry “will be at the top of the agenda in Vienna in the (upcoming) review process under the Helsinki Accords and also in the summit in Moscow.”
Abram said they also discussed Israel’s deportation policy. He told reporters that “it is questionable and murky” whether deportation of a handful of Palestinians would violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, signed in 1949.
State Department spokesman Charles Redman said as recently as Tuesday that Israel’s procedure violated international law.
Abram said the convention “was designed to deal with the issue of mass deportations such as for slave labor or extermination.”
Abram also stated that “those who face expulsion are getting fairly minor punishment as compared for example to capital punishment, which is permitted under the Geneva Convention.”