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U.S. Won’t Impose Peace Settlement on Israel, Reagan Assures UJA Leaders

March 17, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

President Reagan declared Tuesday that the United States will not impose a peace settlement in the Middle East against Israel’s will.

“Peace will not be imposed by us or by anyone else,” the president said during a meeting with members of the United Jewish Appeal Prime Minister’s Council at the White House.

“It will and must come from the genuine give-and-take of negotiations. That’s what we are working to set in motion now,” he said.

The president’s remarks to the group of some 200 Jewish leaders came as Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of Israel was meeting with Secretary of State George Shultz to discuss Shultz’s new peace proposals for a settlement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Shamir and Shultz said after their meeting that they made little progress and that major differences between them remain. The premier has welcomed the U.S. initiative, but is firmly opposed to several elements of the plan, which advocates Israeli withdrawal from the territories in return for peace.

In his speech to the UJA leaders, Reagan vowed that American support for Israel is unshaken and declared that “no wedge will be driven between the United States and Israel.”

“Our commitment to close relations and to Israel’s security,” he said, “has been reflected in our foreign aid levels, our commercial cooperation of research and defense, and the vital and historic free-trade agreement that we have signed.”

The president asserted that America’s commitment to Israeli security is reflected in Shultz’s new peace initiative. “Making progress toward peace in the Middle East not only serves mutual interests, it is urgent. It’s in America’s and Israel’s interest to develop a credible basis on which to make progress — one that promises to overcome stalemate and make genuine reconciliation possible. That’s why I am delighted that Prime Minister Shamir is here,” Reagan said.

Continuing, the president said to the applause of the Jewish leaders: “And let me underscore one point that I hope needs no underscoring: Our policy has as its basis — and this is a first principle in any negotiation — the assuring of Israel’s freedom and security. We will not leave Israel to stand alone. Nor will we acquiesce in any effort to ‘gang up’ on Israel.”

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