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Mondale: Reagan Has ‘squandered’ the Promise of Camp David

September 18, 1984
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Former Vice President Walter Mondale today accused President Reagan of having “squandered the promise of Camp David” and being “essentially absent” from the Middle East peace effort.

The Democratic candidate for the Presidency also told Jewish supporters that he will personally take charge of the peace effort, “scrap” Reagan’s September 1, 1982 Mideast peace initiative and move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“I will lead the search for peace personally, using the weight and influence of the Presidency,” he told some 300 Jewish leaders and elected official from across the country who met at the Capital Hilton Hotel here to establish the Leadership for Mondale-Ferraro which will press the Democratic campaign in the Jewish community.

“Only the President leading our government can make a difference” in the Mideast peace effort, Mondale said. He noted that he has “25 years of knowledge, experience, background and commitment” and therefore “I’ll know what I’m doing.”


Mondale charged that by being absent, Reagan has left Mideast policy to others such as the State Department and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. Mayor Edward Koch of New York City, who introduced Mondale, charged that Reagan “is keeping Caspar Weinberger muzzled” during the campaign. “But if Reagan is re-elected, Weinberger will be back and that will mean nothing but trauble, tsouris for Israel,” Koch said.

Noting that this was the sixth anniversary of the signing of the Camp David ageement, Mondale said “That was a day that we proved what leadership can do ….”

He charged that the Reagan Administration “took over when there was hope” but then “instead they proposed a policy of illusion” in the Middle East. He charged that the Administration’s illusions were that it could “enter into a policy of strategic cooperation with Arab countries to fight the Soviet Union”; that “if they were tough enough on Israel somehow Hussein and other Arab leaders would sit down and talk” and “if they were tougher on Israel Syria would behave as a responsible nation in international society.”


Mondale said that Reagan had abandoned Camp David and the Israeli-Egyption peace treaty and the situation with Egypt now was “in reverse” from peace. “We have entered into a cold peace with negotiations in cold storage,” he said. He denounced the Administration for supplying arms to Saudi Arabia and proposing arms for Jordan and for having had secret talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Mondale said that the Reagan initiative “made concessions to Arabs at Israel’s expense before talks even started.” He said this violated the Camp David agreement. “It didn’t work,” he said. “The Arabs pocketed the concessions but refused to talk.”


Outlining what would be his own policy if elected, Mondale declared “I will once again make America’s relationship to Israel the cornerstone of Middle East policy. We will stand strongly and publicly with Israel. We are not embarrassed by our support for Israel, we proclaim it.”

He stressed that “I will make it clear that the path to peace starts with direct negotiations with Israel. I won’t impose solutions on our friends. I will support and defend Camp David and make it clear that peace cannot come without full recognition of Israel’s right to exist. I will scrap the failed Reagan plan and give the new Israel government time to develop its own policy with the Arabs. I will strengthen strategic cooperation with Israel.

“I will end the fiction that Jerusalem is not the capital of that good country. For more than 10 years I have supported moving our Embassy there and as President I will do it.”

Mondale also said that he will provide the new Israel government with the support it needs to get its economy back on its feet. He stressed that “all my life I have fought for Israel and against anti-Semitism.” He noted that he has done this together with the Jewish community.


“We believe in America free of racism, anti-Semitism and moral McCarthyism,” Mondale declared. “All bigotry is obscene, whether it comes from the extremist preachers who captured the Republican convention, Rabbi Kahane or the pulpit of Louis Farrakhan.”

Mondale received a standing ovation when at the conclusion he declared: “I would rather lose with your help than win without it.” But he added, “I will win with your help.”

In introducing Mondale, Koch said in 1980 he believed that “Ronald Reagan’s position on Israel was better than Jimmy Carter’s “but” in 1984 Fritz Mondale’s position on Israel is better than Ronald Reagan’s.”

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