WASHINGTON (Sep. 9)
Secretary of State George Shultz disclosed today that while the Reagan Administration urges Israel to freeze the construction of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Gaza, it apposes “dismantlement of existing settlements.”
“The status of Israeli settlements must be determined in the course of the final status negotiations” for the West Bank and Gaza, Shultz told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We will not support their continuation as extra-territorial outposts, but neither will we support efforts to deny Jews the opportunity to live in the West Bank and Gaza under the duly constituted governmental authority there, as Arabs live in Israel.”
Shultz’s remarks were made as he briefed the committee at a hearing he requested to explain President Reagan’s peace initiative for the Middle East which Reagan unveiled in a nationally-televised address September I. Shultz will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tomorrow.
U.S. ‘TALKING POINTS’
In his statement to the House committee, Shultz made several other points that were not included in the Reagan television address but were made as “talking points” to Israel and the Arab countries. These involved the autonomy period for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza which Shultz said would be a “transition” time during which the final status of the territories will be negotiated.
These points, which Israel has already rejected, are that the United States believes that full autonomy should give the Palestinians “real authority over themselves, the land, and its resources, subject to Fair safeguards on water; economic, commercial, social and cultural ties between the West Bank and Gaza and Jordan; East Jerusalem Arabs to be allowed to vote for the autonomy authority, and progressive Palestinian responsibility for internal security based on capability and performance.”
Shultz urged Congress to “stay with the President in his determination to sustain” his initiative, and “to look for the long-term just solutions.”
When Acting Committee Chairman L. C. Fountain (D. N.C.) asked what the United States would do about Israeli “intransigence,” Shultz said that the President’s proposals were in the early stages, as Reagan did after the Knesset rejected Reagan’s proposals. Shultz said the various parties were staking out positions for negotiations. Shultz said the United States had made its position public and now was waiting “for the right people to come to the negotiating table.”
SHULTZ CITES BEGIN AS PEACE-MAKER
When Rep. Benjamin Rosenthal (D. NY) said he could not see Premier Menachem Begin changing his position, Shultz noted that Begin already has a record as a peace-maker as one of the signers of the Camp David accords. Shultz stressed, in his opening remarks, that former President Carter said that Reagan’s peace initiative “is absolutely compatible with the Camp David agreements.”
The Secretary said that the Reagan Administration’s “initiative” will give the Camp David provisions “their full meaning and a new dynamism.” Shultz again ruled out any new pressure on Israel, except “the compelling pull of peace.”
Rep. Bob Shamansky (D. Ohio) said the only pressure that would work on Israel would come from within Israel itself and from the Jewish people abroad, but he said this will not be exerted until Israelis and Jews see that the Arab states have given their “explicit” recognition of Israel instead of the “implicit” one they continue to talk about. Shultz noted that Reagan, in his speech, urged Arab recognition of Israel.
SAYS ALL PARTIES WERE CONSULTED
Rosenthal and Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R. N.Y.) raised the question about Israel’s charges it was not fully consulted. Shultz said that all the proposals had long been made privately by the United States and were well known by all the parties.
He said that, in formulating the proposals, the United States wanted to first make sure that King Hussein of Jordan would be willing to consider them and when this was assured, then Egypt, Saudi Arabia and “of course, Israel,” were given the “talking points” before Reagan made his speech.
But Shultz indicated that the United States had been worried about leaks from Israel, although he did not mention Israel by name. “The minute you go, at least to some people, and say ‘here is what the President of the United States is thinking of saying,’ it is in the public domain,” he noted.
Shultz said that Reagan decided to make his TV address that night on September I after details of his proposals had been revealed. While Shultz did not mention Israel in this connection, the details were revealed in Israel earlier that day.
REAGAN’S PLAN GETS WIDE SUPPORT
Most of the committee members indicated support for the President’s proposal but Rep. Dante Fascell (D. Fla.) indicated criticism when he said that, at a time when Israel made it possible to restore a strong central government in Lebanon, the United States had “dusted off an old Jordanian plan for peace in the Mideast.”
Fascell and Rep. Stephen Solarz (D. N.Y.) questioned the United States abandoning its role as mediator. Shultz, who has experience as a labor mediator, said there are many roles for a mediator: sometimes just taking messages between the parties, sometimes making private proposals, and sometimes public proposals. He said the United States had decided that now is the time for public proposals because of the “stagnant state” of the autonomy talks.
Shultz, in stressing Reagan’s commitment “to stay fully engaged” in the effort to bring about a sovereign Lebanon, emphasized that “the problems of Lebanon are distinct and must be addressed whenever possible separately from our Middle East peace initiative, but both tasks must be carried out without delay.”