Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis came under attack over the weekend from both Secretary of State George Shultz and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, for advocating moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The embassy issue, which had not been publicly debated in the current presidential campaign as it was in 1984, moved into the open Friday when Shultz, in an appearance on NBC-TV’s “Today,” show, said, “It’s shocking that anybody would make such a proposal.”
Such a move would be a “mistake,” Shultz said, since Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights “are regarded as occupied territory” and are “subject to negotiations.”
Jackson, who appeared Sunday on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press,” said that Shultz “is correct, and every American president has taken that position.”
He said that “any unilateral move undercuts” the peace process and, like Shultz, he said a decision on Jerusalem, as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, should be part of an overall Mideast settlement.
“Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would not make Israel more secure,” Jackson said. “It would not be security for Israel, nor justice for the Palestinians, nor peace for both.”
In Jerusalem, Mayor Teddy Kollek dismissed Dukakis’ proposal, predicting that Arab pressure would corrupt any practical effort to implement such a decision.
Speaking in a radio interview Saturday, Kollek said he preferred, instead, to dwell on his anger over the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory to U.S. citizens some months ago which, he said, had directly contributed to the drop-off in tourism to Jerusalem.
“Let them change this first, instead of all this talk about the embassy,” Kollek said.
IMPLIED EMBASSY MOVE
Dukakis, who has won enough delegates to ensure him winning the Democratic nomination for the presidency, had never directly called for moving the embassy during the current campaign.
But he appeared to imply that the embassy should be moved to Jerusalem in an interview in the Los Angeles Times May 26.
“If Israel wants its capital in Jerusalem, then as far as I am concerned, its capital is in Jerusalem,” Dukakis said.
He went on to say that “it’s a basic principle of doing business with other nations. They say their capital is in ‘X,’ then that’s where we go.”
Dukakis said that he accepts the legitimacy of Israel’s control over all of Jerusalem, and that this is not negotiable “except for the rights of religious groups, which are rights that Israel has accepted.”
When Dukakis was questioned in Boston about the Shultz remarks Friday, he first repeated his earlier statement. But when pressed, he said that if Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, that is where the embassy should be.
Later, his campaign headquarters in Boston issued a statement which called Shultz’s remarks “disturbing.”
“The secretary would deny to Israel, our staunch friend and ally, the right he grants to East Germany: the right to choose its own capital,” the statement said.
The deputy issues-director for the Dukakis campaign, James Steinberg, said, “Gov. Dukakis believes that Jerusalem is and should remain the undivided capital of Israel under Israeli control.”
RUIN THE PEACE PROCESS
Shultz, in his NBC-TV interview, appeared to agree that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, while stressing that for the U.S. to officially acknowledge this by moving its embassy there would “ruin” the peace process.
“Our view is that Jerusalem must remain a unified city — that is the United States position — but that its status remains subject to negotiations.
“I have no doubt that the capital of Israel will stay there, will be a unified city, and so on. But in the meantime, if you want to proceed with negotiations, you don’t wind up in effect declaring an outcome that hasn’t been agreed to yet.”
Hyman Bookbinder, special Washington representative of the American Jewish Committee who plans to join the Dukakis campaign, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “it would not be improper” to read into the governor’s statement that he favored moving the embassy.
“It’s fair to say that as president, he (Dukakis) would implement this and he ought to,” he added.
He noted that Madeleine Albright, the Georgetown University professor who is Dukakis’ senior foreign policy adviser, has said recently in interviews that Dukakis has stated publicly for years that he favors having the embassy in Jerusalem.
The question of moving the U.S. Embassy has not been an issue this year as it was in 1984, when former Vice President Walter Mondale and the campaign in the New York Democratic primary arguing over who had been the first to advocate the move.
Bookbinder said he was surprised that Shultz “came down so hard” on Dukakis. He noted that at least part of Jerusalem was Israel’s capital from 1948 until the city was reunified in the 1967 Six-Day War.
“It’s never been justifiable,” even before 1967, that the United States should not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Bookbinder said.
He said the only excuse has been that “it would irritate the Arabs,” although he noted the United States has frequently irritated them by, for example, its vetoes of anti-Israel resolutions in the United Nations Security Council.
(Correspondent David Landau in Jerusalem contributed to this story.)
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.