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Gop Platform Strong on Israel As Convention Gets Set to Open

August 15, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Republican National Convention is expected to adopt a platform Tuesday that expresses strong support for Israel while also calling for voluntary school prayer and other social issues not supported by most American Jews.

Where the Democratic National Convention faced a strong, though unsuccessful, push by Jackson supporters to include a plank backing Palestinian “self-determination,” a code word in Middle East diplomatic parlance for a Palestinian state, the Republican platform flatly opposes a Palestinian state.

“We oppose the creation of a Palestinian state,” the GOP campaign document declares. “Its establishment is inimical to the security interests of Israel, Jordan and the U.S. We will not support the creation of any Palestinian entity that could place Israel’s security in jeopardy.”

Where the Democratic platform does not mention Jerusalem, the GOP document asserts that “we believe that Jerusalem should remain an undivided city, with free and unimpeded access to all holy places by people of all faiths.”

The platform plank on the Middle East is rather lengthy, in contrast to the short paragraph in the Democratic platform which was purposely kept brief, with the idea to be thematic rather than specific.

The document stresses that the Reagan Administration “solidified this partnership” so that now “the relations between the United States and Israel are closer than ever before.”

The document calls for additional steps to “institutionalize this partnership.”

This will include maintaining adequate levels of security and economic assistance; continuing meetings on military, political and economic cooperation and coordinating repositioning of military equipment; developing joint contingency plans; and increasing joint naval and air exercises.


The Republicans promise to work for an Israel-Arab peace based on the principles of “direct negotiations between Israel and the Arab nations,” and promise that a solution will “never be imposed upon unwilling partners.”

The platform stresses that the Palestine Liberation Organization “should have no role in the peace process unless it recognizes Israel’s right to exist; accepts UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, renounces terrorism, and removes language from its charter demanding Israel’s destruction.”

The platform pledges that a Bush administration will continue to work to achieve peace in the Middle East “as long as the security of Israel is not compromised. Much work remains to establish a climate in the Middle East where the legitimate rights of all parties, including the Palestinians, can be equitably addressed.”

The platform supports “legislation mandating if the United Nations and its agencies were to deny Israel’s right to participate, the United States would withhold financial support and withdraw from those bodies until their action was rectified.

The platform also calls for repeal of the 1975 UN resolution equating Zionism with racism, and warns that “failure to repeal the resolution will justify attenuation of our support for the UN.”

The platform, which reaffirms support for the Strategic Defense Initiative, states that “in response to the dangerous proliferation of ballistic missiles, a joint U.S.-Israel effort is now under way to produce the free world’s first anti-tactical ballistic missile system, Project Arrow.”

The platform supports Israeli development of the missile for which the United States is providing Israel with 80 percent of the funds needed for research.

On human rights, the platform calls “upon the Soviet government to release political prisoners, allow free emigration for ‘refuseniks’ and others and introduce full religious tolerance.

“Soviet Jews, Christians, and other ethnic and religious groups are systematically persecuted, denied the right to emigrate, and prevented from freely practicing their religious beliefs. This situation is intolerable, and Republicans demand an end to all of these discriminatory practices.”

Republican Jews are pointing to the length of the 188-page document as one that is strong on specifics rather than the shorter, more general document.

In 1984, Republican Jews expected a shift in Jewish support because of concern about Jackson. This did not happen, many believe, because of Reagan’s support for what Jews perceived as a “Christian America.”

However, how Jews vote may depend less on the platforms, which receive little attention once the conventions are over, and more on what Dukakis and Bush do and say during the upcoming campaign.

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