Menu JTA Search

Kemp Raps U.n., Backs Israel in Presidential Campaign Stop

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Saying that the United Nations “has bent over backwards to attack Israel,” Republican presidential candidate Jack Kemp told Jewish leaders Thursday that if elected president, he would veto any United Nations resolution that would “in any way condemn Israel.”

Speaking at a forum sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the congressman from Buffalo, N.Y. outlined his proposed foreign policy agenda. It includes a call for a bilateral defense treaty between the United States and Israel and a widening of the Camp David peace process to include Arab countries in addition to Egypt.

He did not discuss domestic issues. Kemp, who has enjoyed conservative Jewish support for his efforts on behalf of Israel and Soviet Jewry, is trailing Sen. Robert Dole of Kansas and Vice President George Bush in presidential election polls.

The candidate called his pro-Israel stance as a member of Congress “the American thing to do,” and assured the leaders that despite what he called “a direct frontal attack on the legitimacy of Israel” by politicians and the news media, the Jewish community is not alone in its support of Israel.

He said the present situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank was “a new phase of Arab rejection of Israel and a new phase — now internal — of an assault that’s decades old.”

As president, said Kemp, he would push for a bilateral defense treaty that would “formalize” of the U.S-Israel relationship and a “reaffirmation” of the Camp David peace process that would allow, he said, for bilateral negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Kemp, presently a senior Republican member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, said as president, he would tie the sale of sophisticated arms to Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to their participation in the peace process.

OPPOSES SOVIET ROLE

In addition, he said he would not favor a Soviet role in the peace process, because of its support of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Kremlin’s wish to “Keep the cauldron smoldering in the Middle East.”

On the subject of the PLO, Kemp said he favored the closing of its office in Washington and its observer mission at the United Nations in New York.

The congressman said he favors a “prompt, prudent” response to terrorism and that he supports the United States raid on Libya in 1986. Following the bombing of U.S. Marines headquarters in Lebanon in 1985, the U.S. military “should have gone into the Bekaa Valley and taken out the Syrian-backed terrorist camps,” he said.

Kemp reiterated his support for the free emigration of Soviet Jewry and said there should be no repeal of the 1974 Jackson-Vanik legislation, which bars most-favored-nation treatment to countries that do not permit free emigration. Nor does he support “new treaties with the Soviet Union until it accords with (the) Helsinki” international human rights agreements.

NEXT STORY