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Candidates Take Issue with Bush on Guaranteeing Loans for Israel

March 12, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Paul Tsongas favors immediately and unconditionally granting Israel guarantees for $10 billion in loans, while his chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bill Clinton, criticizes President Bush for using pressure tactics against Israel.

Their stated positions are in answer to a 14 point questionnaire sent to all candidates by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and are published in a special edition of its Response magazine.

The views of all candidates are represented, including those of Sens. Tom Harkin and Bob Kerrey, who have since dropped out of the race. The exception is Republican Patrick Buchanan, a frequent critic of the Jewish community, who did not respond.

On the question of support for the loan guarantees, President Bush makes the point that under his administration, Israel has received more than $10 billion in U.S. aid and loan guarantees and that he is asking Congress to authorize an additional $3 billion in aid for the coming year.

But on the specific question of the new loan guarantees request, Bush hedges his bets. He states that “I am committed to trying to reach agreement with the government of Israel on terms and conditions that would allow us both to provide new loan guarantees” and to “promote peace between Israel and its neighbors.”

In a somewhat similar tone, former Califor- nia Gov. Jerry Brown, also a Democratic candidate, says he does “support the loan guarantees, but anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the fact that the furious settlement pace is going to undermine the peace process and make any kind of lasting solution impossible is just not facing the facts as they are.”

On the question, “Do you support the establishment of a Palestinian state?” ex-candidate Kerrey is the most explicit, with the one-word reply: “No.”


Tsongas says he believes a Palestinian state “would have a destabilizing effect in the region and would not be economically viable.” But he adds that the issue must be settled among the parties involved.

The answers by Bush, Clinton and Brown are less clearcut, with the latter responding with a somewhat cryptic, “I support the peace process.”

Bush’s statement reads, in part: “We do not support the establishment of a Palestinian state, but we do support the Palestinian people realizing their legitimate political rights in a context that assures Israel’s security.”

To another question on “What changes would you make in the strategic relationship between the U.S. and Israel?” the answers tended to be general but all candidates affirmed their strong backing for a secure Israel as a major U.S. ally.

Clinton, while praising the Bush administration for bringing Israel and the Arabs to the peace table, states his belief that “the president is wrong to use public pressure tactics against Israel,” because “he has raised Arab expectations that he’ll deliver Israeli concessions and fed Israeli fears that its interests will be sacrificed to an American-imposed solution.”

All candidates also pledged their support for continuing funding of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which brings Nazi war criminals to justice.

Buchanan has called for OSI’s dismantling in the past.

Other questions dealt with hate crimes, civil rights, immigration policy, possible action against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, military cuts, technology transfer, human rights and aid to the states that formerly constituted the Soviet Union.

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