WASHINGTON (Jul. 24)
Vice President George Bush, preparing for the Republican National Convention and the election race against Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis, accepted Thursday a “Middle East Position Paper” prepared by his 27-member Middle East advisory committee.
The most remarkable aspect of the paper is its detailed recommendations on how to increase U.S.-Israeli strategic cooperation, pro-Israel analysts said Friday.
The nine-page paper calls for Israel and the United States to engage in further “joint exercises, pre-positioning of dual-use stockpiles (including combat equipment, spare parts, and ammunition), intelligence sharing and contingency planning.”
A pro-Israel source said that in this position paper, Bush has gone “far beyond (President) Reagan” on the issue of military cooperation. It was Reagan who signed the 1983 formal agreement establishing strategic cooperation between the two countries.
Marshall Breger, a member of the advisory committee, which was co-chaired by Ohio businessman Gordon Zacks and former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Fairbanks, called this “a mature and sophisticated document.”
He said besides its “sophisticated detail” on strategic cooperation, it recognizes that achieving a Middle East peace is a “long and slow process.”
Any 1988 Republican Party platform plank dealing with the Middle East will almost certainly have appeared in the paper, sources said.
The vice president will now consult directly with the platform committee, chaired by Nebraska Gov. Kay Orr, U.S. Sen. Robert Kasten (R-Wis.) and U.S. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), to hammer out the platform.
The platform committee begins its final round of hearings Aug. 8, in New Orleans, where the convention will take place Aug. 15 to 18.
FEW REFERENCES TO ISRAEL
In comparison to the Democratic Party platform, which includes only a few references to Israel, the Republican version will likely have more to say about the Middle East.
Members of the advisory committee predicted, for example, that the party’s 1988 platform will become the first party platform to urge the repeal of the 1975 United Nations resolution equating Zionism with racism.
Bush, who was the U.S. representative to the United Nations from 1971 to 1973, told 30 members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations who met at his home in June that he was “strongly opposed to the resolution and called for its repeal,” according to one Republican Jewish leader.
An advisory committee source said the only conflict between Bush’s policy paper and the committee’s recommendations was a minority recommendation urging Bush not to categorically call for the repeal of the Zionism equals racism resolution.
But Bush rejected that advice, and his policy statement takes the position that “failure to repeal that resolution will justify attenuation of our support of the United Nations to reflect its diminished effectiveness in international affairs.”
The 1984 platform called on the United States to withhold its financial support to any United Nations agency that denies Israel’s right to participate. This policy statement supports that position as well.
SUPPORT FOR DIRECT TALKS
Bush’s stances on Israel, as written in the position paper, include:
Opposition to the concept of a Palestinian state. Advisory committee sources said, however, that Bush would not oppose it if it were agreed upon by Arab-Israeli negotiators.
Support for direct negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors and opposition to imposition of a peace settlement by any “multilateral entity.”
Reiteration of 1984 platform language that the United States should not recognize or negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization, as long as it promotes terrorism, rejects Israel’s right to exist, and refuses to accept U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.
Support for economic growth in Israel proper and the administered territories, “which could increase the confidence to Palestinians and make it easier for them to participate directly in shaping a negotiated peace.”
“More jobs and more opportunities in adjoining countries might draw the energies of more young people into building a world for themselves rather than destroying someone else’s,” the paper said.
The paper, like the advisory committee, does not establish a policy for arms sales to Arab countries, except to note support for maintaining Israel’s “qualitative advantage over any adversary or coalition of also adversaries.”
The paper also does not discuss whether to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
According to sources, Bush opposes moving the embassy and feels the issue should be decided in a latter stage of any Arab-Israeli peace negotiations.
Dukakis has called on the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Sources said it is too early to predict any changes from the Republicans 1984 platform on Soviet Jewry or on the separation between church and state.
The 1984 platform pressed for Soviet compliance with the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, and criticized “Soviet anti-Semitism and human rights violations.”
One conceivable plank, sources said, that would satisfy former presidential contender Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) would be to call for restrictions on “untied loans” made by U.S. banks to the Soviet Union, which are not covered by the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment.
Jackson-Vanik links “most-favored nation” trade benefits to increased emigration from the Soviet Union.
Kemp brought the issue to the forefront last year, and raised it at the platform committee’s Los Angeles hearing devoted to economic affairs.
On the separation between church and state, the 1984 platform welcomed legislation guaranteeing equal access to school facilities by student religious groups.
It also supported voluntary prayer in schools, as well as tuition tax credits to parents with children in parochial schools.