After delivering a hard-line message to American Jewish leaders in Baltimore, Israeli Prime Minster Yitzhak Shamir was expected to deliver more of the same to President Bush in Washington today.
In a 40-minute address here yesterday to an audience of 3,000 at the 60th General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations, Shamir praised the Bush administration for organizing the recent Middle East peace talks in Madrid. But he also aimed a few barbs in the direction of the White House, which has frequently been critical of the Shamir government's policies.
The prime minister called on democratic nations to press Syria into allowing the reported 4,000 Jews there to emigrate freely.
He lamented that Syria, a bitter enemy of Israel, "is now being favored with recognition and respectability," an apparent reference to the thawing of U.S.-Syrian relations since the Persian Gulf War.
In another comment that could be seen as a jab at the White House, Shamir criticized those who advocate using Israeli land to create a Palestinian state.
Without specifying to whom his remarks were addressed, he said, "Another partition of that part of Palestine that is west of the River Jordan will not solve any problem, but again set two communities --Jew and Arab -- against each other in a situation of constant friction. . . . There is simply no room for two states in such a small area!"
The prime minister also indicated that a $10 billion loan guarantee sought by Israel but withheld by the U.S. will be on his mind when he talks with Bush.
Shamir defiantly warned that, loan guarantees or not, Israel "shall not ask a single Jew in the Soviet Union or Romania or Ethiopia or elsewhere to wait" before settling in the Jewish state.
Israel has said the loans would help the nation build new housing and provide services for the flood of Jewish emigres.
Although Shamir's speech was interrupted by applause 26 times, his audience of American Jewish leaders was not entirely convinced. In fact, a day earlier, a study was released showing that most CJF officials disagree with many of the prime minister's key policies.
For example, 88 percent of the 205 officials polled earlier this month by the Wilstein Institute of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles said they favored trading portions of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank for "credible guarantees of peace." Shamir opposes trading land for peace.
Sixty-six percent said they would halt West Bank settlements in exchange for an end to the Palestinian uprising known as the intifada. Shamir wants to expand West Bank settlements.
However, not all of the Jewish leaders' answers reflected conciliation toward Israel's enemies. In fact, 99 percent of the respondents said Israel should never surrender Jerusalem.