JERUSALEM (Feb. 28)
Declaring that American Jewry wants an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict and therefore supports the current efforts by U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz to bring peace to the area, a leading American Jewish official assured Israelis here Sunday that Shultz would not compromise at Israel’s expense.
Morris Abram, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, made the remarks on the eve of a three-day mission that is bringing 60 top American Jewish leaders to Israel.
Abram, who is heading the delegation, said the disturbances in the West Bank and Gaza Strip made clear that “the status quo cannot last indefinitely. There has got to be some change from the status quo,” he said.
But he refused to elaborate, saying as “an American who does not live here, who does not vote here and whose sons will not die here, it is not for me to tell the Israeli people.”
Abram offered a strong defense of Israel’s policy in the administered territories and the conduct of the Israel Defense Force, which has come under increasing international criticism. He said Israel is obliged by international law to maintain law and order in the territories.
He maintained that American public opinion can distinguish between government policy and aberrations by a few individual soldiers, a reference apparently to confirmed incidents of brutality by soldiers against Palestinian civilians.
ABERRATIONS MUST STOP
According to Abram, no army in the world would act with the restraint shown by the Israel Defense Force in similar circumstances and provocations. However, he added, the aberrations must stop.
Abram said that so far there has been no change of attitude toward Israel on the part of the American administration and the Congress. But if events continue as they are, that could change too, he warned.
The Jewish leader said he was convinced that Israel is not the impediment to peace in the region. “Israel wants peace, has wanted peace for 40 years, seeks peace, but needs a partner,” he said. There will be peace if the Arab states and the Palestinian people come forth and recognize Israel, he said.
He reiterated a view shared by some Israelis that the Palestinian homeland is Jordan, not the administered territories.