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Shultz: Reagan Will Not Move U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem Even if Congress Passes a Law to Do

April 2, 1984
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Secretary of State George Shultz stressed today that President Reagan would not move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem even if Congress passed a law requiring it. "The President is very much opposed to it and will not move that Embassy," he said in an appearance on the NBC-TV "Meet the Press" program.

But Shultz would not predict whether Reagan would veto such a bill. Instead, he stressed that if the bill was adopted by Congress, no matter what the President did it would still "be very bad for the United States."

He said that "it would be a gigantic aggravation to important religions, particulary Moslem, the Islamic religion, and it would thereby damage the interests of the U.S. It would damage our ability to be effective in the peace process."

However, Shultz added that he has the "impression" that "people in the Congress are more and more having second thoughts about this and are looking around for some way in which they might defuse this issue."


The Embassy issue was also discussed on the CBS-TV "Face the Nation" program on which the topic was the "Jewish lobby," two days before the primaries in New York State where former Vice President Walter Mondale and Sen. Gary Hart (D. Colo.) have made their support for the Embassy move a major campaign theme in their quest for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

On the CBS program today, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, another Democratic Presidential aspirant who opposes his two rivals on the Embassy move, said that to "shift the Embassy at this point would be a dangerous and devisive move."

He said that Sen. Daniel Moynihan (D.N.Y), by introducing the bill to move the Embassy, "threw a sucker punch" that Hart and Mondale "could not dodge." But, he said, the Embassy issue should not be the "litmus test" for support of Israel.

"Our country loves Israel," Jackson said. He said the U.S. should support Israel’s right to exist with economic and military aid but at the same time it should also "challenge the Arabs to end their holy war against Israel."

To do so, Jackson said, the U.S. must talk to the Arabs, including the Palestine Liberation Organization. But he denied that he has ever made support for talks with the PLO the "litmus test" for his support of whoever wins the Democratic nomination.

Sen. Alan Cranston (D. Calif.), also appearing on "Face the Nation," said it was "ridiculous" that the Embassy issue has become a major one, although he noted that he supports the Moynihan bill or a reported compromise that would make the Congressional action non-mandatory on the President.

Cranston, who earlier dropped out of the Democratic primary race, said the U.S. supports Israel because it "is a democracy," the only one in the Middle East.


Hyman Bookbinder, the Washington representative of the America Jewish Committee, another guest on the program, said the Embassy issue is a "legitimate" one but it is not a "litmus" but one of many issues.

"The Jewish community cares very much about Israel," Bookbinder stressed. "We make no apologies for caring very much. We are not embarrassed about being identified with this issue. But we are an American group that loves America and we want to see a good, strong America and we work on a whole range of issue."

Cranston noted that "the influence of Jews in America is an example of democracy at work. Jews have been subjected to discrimination in our society as have Blacks and Hispanics and women and others and the fact that they are making progress, that they’re able to represent their views, is an example of democracy at work."


Former Democratic Senator James Abourezk of South Dakota, national chairman of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said that politicians are "pandering" to the views of Jews on the Jerusalem issue because they "are assuming that Jewish voters are totally stupid. I think that is a wrong assumption. " But Abourezk accused Jewish organizations of completely following Israeli policy, a view with which Bookbinder disagreed.

Jackson revealed that since his return from Damascus where he secured the release of captured U.S. Navy pilot Lt. Robert Goodman, he has received letters from Israelis asking for his help to secure the release of their relatives in Syria. He said he has made requests of the Syrian government.

He did not specify whether he was talking about five Israeli soldiers believed held captive by the Syrians or Syrian Jews trying to emigrate from Syria. Jackson said he has also been in contact with the Soviet Embassy here to aid imprisoned Jewish activist Anatoly Shcharansky.

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