Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew supported today the decision of the Republican Platform Committee to omit a plank which would have recommended that the Nixon administration transfer the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Inclusion of such a plank, Agnew said at a press conference, would be “very counter-productive” and would “have to lead to much misunderstanding among the parties to the truce” in the Middle East.
Making his first appearance before the media since his nomination last night at the closing session of the Republican convention to be President Nixon’s running mate in the current Presidential campaign, Agnew was asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency how he would account for the omission of the plank on Jerusalem after Republican leaders in both the House and Senate and the Young Republicans last month had advocated the Embassy transfer.
In response to a similar question from the JTA last Friday, Rep. John Rhodes of Arizona, the Platform Committee chairman, said no such amendment to the foreign policy plank was proposed to the committee at the session at which the GOP platform had been adopted. The foreign policy plank was reliably reported to the JTA as having been the work of the State Department.
Apart from the omission of the Jerusalem transfer provision, the Republican plank on the Middle East strongly supports Israel on lines similar to those in the Democratic party’s platform. But the Democratic plank incorporates a recommendation for transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, which would require only an order from the President to go into effect.
Since the Soviet Union two months ago began reducing its military presence in Egypt, the State Department has been extremely reluctant to discuss any phase of the Middle East and particularly the removal of Soviet military personnel from Egypt. President Nixon did not, in his acceptance speech last night, mention the Soviet ouster. He referred to the Middle East in passing in discussing the Vietnam war. He said ending the Vietnam war “by agreeing to impose a Communist government on the people of South Vietnam would be disastrous to the cause of peace in the world” and “endanger areas like the Middle East, Small nations who rely on the friendship and support of the United States would be in deadly jeopardy.”
He also said that “to our friends and allies in Europe, Asia, the Mideast and Latin America. I say that America will continue its great bipartisan tradition–to stand by our friends and never to desert them.” He did not name Israel or any other Mideast country in his speech. Agnew, in his reply to the JTA question, stressed that, as Vice President, he was “the President’s man” and that he took part in foreign policy discussions in the Nixon administration. He said he believed in “the business of separating sensitive foreign policy from politics.”
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.