Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Schindler Pledges to Begin That U.s Jews Would Conduct Public Campaign Against Administration’s PLO

August 15, 1977
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was reported today to have pledged to Premier Menachem Begin that organized Jewry in the United States would mobilize a public fight against the Carter Administration’s readiness to deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization if the PLO agrees to accept United Nations Security Council Resolution 242.

Haaretz said today that this was the main outcome of a meeting this weekend between Begin and Schindler, who had been asked to come here on short notice following President Carter’s statements on the PLO last week and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance’s visit to the area. There was no immediate comment from Schindler who has been keeping a low profile so far on this visit.


Meanwhile, the Knesset was expected to be called back from its summer recess this week following a demand by the opposition Labor Alignment to discuss what it called the “failure of the government’s foreign policy.” Labor is expected to argue that Begin should have expressed Israel’s willingness to make territorial compromises, during Vance’s two-day visit here last week, because the failure to do so has put Israel in a position of political isolation and jeopardized the reconvening of the Geneva conference this year.

The press this weekend featured a number of articles questioning Begin’s handling of the talks with Vance and particularly his comments afterwards that they had been “excellent talks. . .great achievements for peace”. A number of commentators writing both from Israel and Washington said that the new American position would mean a confrontation between the U.S. and Israel if the PLO decided to accept Resolution 242. They said it was therefore specious to claim, as Begin does, that there is no confrontation with the United States.

In an interview with Davar last Friday, former Premier Yitzhak Rabin said he had not anticipated any differences between the U.S. and Israel during the Vance trip. “But we are now in the process of sharpening the differences between us, and a widening of the areas of disagreement, “Rabin said. He repeated his charge that during Begin’s Washington trip last month the Premier created “a short-time harmony” at the expense of “a long-term danger”.

Rabin asserted that since his own visit as Premier to Washington in March, an internal struggle has gone on between Israel’s friends in the U.S. and the Carter Administration, and as a result an opportunity was created for bringing about a change in Carter’s positions. Rabin did not claim that Carter would actually have reversed his stand, but it had been possible to persuade him to shelve those positions which Israel considered hostile-just as the Nixon Administration had been persuaded to shelve the “Rogers Plan” without actually reversing it out-right.

“Carter’s public position with regard to these stands was becoming increasingly tenuous,” Rabin said. “Opposition was building up. But the harmony between Begin and Carter was achieved at the price of this struggle. “Rabin said that Begin, by his policy of leaving all substantive issues to Geneva and not seeking prior coordination with Washington, had in effect “given legitimation” to these American positions.

If the Haaretz story regarding Schindler is correct, observers pointed out, it would mean that Begin himself has been persuaded of the need to fight within U.S. public and policymaking forums to change the Administration’s stands on some key issues.


Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan told weekend televiewers that peace negotiations had “in effect begun”. He noted the Arab states’ agreement in principle to seek signed contractual peace agreements and also their willingness to go to Geneva without preconditions. Both of these, he said, were signs of progress. At the same time the gaps were huge and the Vance visit had not narrowed them, he admitted. Dayan termed Egypt’s position “the most intransigent imaginable”. Sadat had demanded full Israeli withdrawal, a PLO state on the West Bank and Gaza and PLO representation at Geneva, Dayan said.

The Foreign Minister said he believed Vance had not really expected substantial narrowing of gaps on his mission this time, and for this reason he had not pressed Israel. Dayan implicitly confirmed earlier reports that he has been authorized by the Cabinet to enter into substantive negotiations when he meets with Vance in New York in September as part of the round of proximity talks to be held there. But officials here still insist that the main bulk of the substantive negotiations must take place at Geneva, not New York, and with the Arabs, not the U.S.

Recommended from JTA