Bush Will Support Israel UnconditionallyBy Janine Zacharia, Jerusalem Post, 08/02/2000
PHILADELPHIA (August 2) - As president, George W. Bush would support Israel even if it decides not to take risks for peace, former president Ronald Reagan's secretary of state told a Jewish audience gathered here for the Republican National Convention.
After an opening day that focused on education and showcased black and Hispanic Republicans, the Republican Convention's thrust yesterday shifted to national security and defense, and to why George W. Bush is the most suitable to lead the US on the world stage.
The theme was expected to be continued tonight with a speech by Bush's running mate, Richard Cheney, secretary of defense during the administration of George W. Bush's father, President George Bush.
Former secretary of state George Shultz, who served in the Reagan administration during Yitzhak Shamir's premiership and who is now a foreign policy adviser to Bush, echoed the Republican platform's Middle East position, saying "it is up to the Israelis to decide" what is best for them.
He recalled a speech made by Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic presidential candidate, last year in which Gore said America should stand by Israel when it takes risks for peace.
"I said I didn't agree with that. I think the US should stand by Israel. Period. When you say risks for peace you are saying risks to your security," Shultz told the audience of about 150 Republican Jewish activists and leaders, who responded with a loud ovation.
"I've discussed this at some length with Governor Bush. I know he has the same view I do," he added.
George W. Bush's top foreign policy adviser, Condoleeza Rice, was due last night to outline the Texas governor's foreign policy views.
In a brief appearance at the luncheon hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group of American Jews who are Republicans, Rice emphasized that a Bush administration would continue the "bipartisan tradition of support" for Israel.
She said any Arab-Israeli agreement would have to be one which"both parties feel will make them feel secure."
"I'm not trying to do a tour of the world," Rice told The Jerusalem Post a few hours before she was due to appear at Philadelphia's First Union convention center.
She said her speech would focus on "who we are as a people and what that means for our foreign policy." Rice, 45, who has been mentioned as a possible national security adviser should Bush win the election in November, said she would discuss the Middle East in her speech, which was carefully drafted by Bush's foreign policy team. At a function hosted by AIPAC, she said that Israel was a strategic ally and that the US-Israel relationship needed to be cultivated.
Bush, who has served two terms as governor of Texas, has limited experience in foreign affairs outside of dealing with neighboring Mexico. He has been striving to present himself as knowledgeable enough to guide the US in issues ranging from the Middle East through the former Soviet Union to Asia.
Last night's scheduled featured speakers also included Persian Gulf war general H. Norman Schwarzkopf, former senator Bob Dole, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who was to speak about the importance of military strength. McCain, who abandoned a challenge to Bush earlier this year for the Republican nomination, has since endorsed the Texas governor.
On Monday night, Bush's wife Laura spoke about the importance of education in America's schools. Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell, mentioned as a potential secretary of state in a Bush administration, spoke about domestic challenges.
"The issue of race still casts a shadow over our society,
despite the impressive progress we have made over the last
40 years to overcome the legacy of our troubled past,"