Kerry position paper outlines support for Israel

By Nathan Guttman


July 3, 2004

WASHINGTON - In a position paper outlining his stance on Israel, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry promises not to negotiate with Yasser Arafat and expresses support for Israel's right to defend itself by attacking terrorist organizations.

The paper, entitled "John Kerry: Strengthening Israel's Security and Bolstering the U.S.-Israel Special Relationship," was sent in mid-June to a group of people in the Jewish community as part of the Kerry attempt to maintain contact with Jewish supporters in the United States and to clarify his positions on Israel.

Kerry, who previously spoke against the separation fence at a gathering of the Arab-American Institute, is now seeking to correct that impression: "The security fence is a legitimate act of self-defense erected in response to the wave of terror attacks against Israeli citizens."

The presumptive Democratic nominee also declares his opposition to transferring debate on the fence to international forums. The paper shows consistent support for Israel on all the issues at hand: Kerry backs Israel's disengagement plan and also the two central points in President Bush's letter to Prime Minister Sharon - the resettlement of Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian state, not within Israel, and recognition of Jewish population concentrations in the West Bank when establishing the permanent borders. "In light of demographic realities, a number of settlement blocs will likely become a part of Israel," Kerry wrote his supporters.

He further declared support for Israel's actions against Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror organizations and recalled that he was a signatory to the motion of support for Israel passed by the Senate during Operation Defensive Shield.

On the issue of Palestinian leadership, Kerry declared that "Yasser Arafat is a failed leader and unfit partner for peace" and called for "his total isolation." He thereby aligned himself with Bush administration policy, and in contrast to former president Bill Clinton, who recently stated that despite his disappointment with Arafat, negotiations should be conducted with him.

Kerry lists additional issues on which he supports Israel: the battle against cutting foreign aid to Israel; calling upon the United Nations to evince a more balanced approach to the conflict; support for moving the American embassy to Jerusalem; international action against regimes that support terror; and maintaining Israel's military supremacy.

Seeking to set himself apart from Bush on several issues, Kerry blasts Saudi Arabia and promises to act against anti-Semitic statements by senior Saudi government officials. "As president, he will never permit these kinds of attacks to go unanswered," the paper promises.

Sources in his campaign said that the paper and other letters sent in recent weeks to supporters in the Jewish community are intended "to educate and inform on his views, so there will be no doubt about his support for the state of Israel."