Following are excerpts from President Carter's coinments on some of the issues raised at yesterday's press conference: Middle East
I think that any move [by Israel] toward making permanent the settlements in the occupied territories, or the establishment of new settlements obviously increases the difficulty in ultimate peace.
It is not an insurmountable problem. The matter of legalizing existing settlements was a subject that was never discussed by me or Prime Minister Begin. My own concern was with the establishment of new settlements. And I let him know very strongly that this would be a matter that would cause our own government deep concern.
This matter of settlements in the occupied territories has always been characterized by our government, by me and my predecessors as an illegal action; but I think that the establishment of new settlements or the recognition of existing settlements to be legal. Both provide obstacles to peace, obstacles which I think we can overcome, by the way . . .
Mr. Begin did not give me any promise about his action on the settlement question. I did describe to him our long-standing position on the settlements, which I have already outlined, and told him that this was a major item of potential differences between Israel and the Arab countries, and my strong hope that nothing would be done by the Israeli government in establishing new settlements that might exacerbate an already difficult position.
He listened to me very carefully. he said this was a major political issue in Israel, that in many instances he and his opposition, political parties in Israel, felt the same about it, but that he was certainly aware of our concern. But he did not give me any commitments about what he would do.
. . . He did not give any prior notice that they were going to recognize the legality of the settlements involved. . .
. . . I think it is not fair to overly criticize Prime MInister Begin. The fact is that under the previous Mapai Coalition, the labor government, that settlements have been built there, a fairly large number. The number of people involved is quite small, and this is not a new thing. I think it would be a mistake to overemphasize it or to exaggerate the significance of it. We feel that any restraint that Prime MInister Begin might want to exert on this subject would certainly be contributory toward peace.
I think he is in a position now of great strength in Israel. I think that his voice would be honored by the Israeli people. But he, like myself, has run on campaign commitments and I think he is trying to accomodate the interest of peace as best he can. That doesn't mean that the settlements are right, but I think it would not be proper to castigate him unneccessarily about it because he is continuing policies that have been extant in Israel for a long time. And the Israeli government has never claimed that these settlements are permanent. What they have done is to say that they are legal at the present time.
I think that is all I know about the subject and certainly all I am going to say now. Relations WIth Congress
I think the major issue that I will point out that I have done before is I have learned how to work much more harmoniously with the Congress. I have been amazed at how hard the Congress works. Their results so far, I believe, are unprecedented in having passed all of the major elements of the appropriations bills. This used to take place sometimes in November of December. They have already completed this major work; the establishment of a new department of energy, which is now on the verge of being completed, and many other things.
I have learned to respect the Congress more in an individual basis. I have been favorably impressed at the high degree of concentrated experience and knowledge that the individual members of Congress can bring on a specific subject where they have been the chairman of a subcommittee or committee for many years and have focused attention on this paticular aspect of government life, which I will never be able to do.
I think I have learned the sensitivities of them in trying to let them know ahead of time before my own positions were pronounced publicly . . . Quotas
I hate to endorse the proposition of quotas for minority groups, for women or for anyone else that contravene the concept of merit selection. However, I think it is appropiate for both private employers, the public governments and also institutions of education, health and so forth to try to compensate as well as possible for past dicrimination and also to take into consideration the fact that many tests that are used to screen applicants quite often are inadvertantley biased against those whose environment and whose training might be different from white majority representatives of our society.
It is not an easy question for the courts to answer or the Congress. It is not an easy question for me as President to answer, either, I just want to be sure that if we do make a mistake in this carefully balanced approach, that the mistake might be to end discrimination and not the other way around.
But, of course, I will have to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. And I might say that the Secretary of HEW and the Attorney General, who are laywers - and I am not - will prepare our position. I will be involved in that preparation . . . Criticism by Poor, Blacks
I think many of the expressions of concern are certainly legitimate. I want to be sure that the public and I and the Congress are always aware of deprivations because quite often those who are deprived most are not articulate enough or well-educated enough or influential enough to speak with a strong voice that can be heard. And I think it is completely legitimate for some one like the head of the [National] Urban League or the head of the NAACP or other groups to speak out if they think that inadequate attention has been paid.
. . . We have had a very good record so far, both my own admi nistration and the Democratic Congress. We have initiated programs now which are just beginning to be felt that will greatly reduce the problems of those poor people in downtown urban areas in particular with public service jobs, public works jobs. CETA [Comprehensive Employment and Training Act] training programs and the allocation of all federal monies on housing and so forth to the areas that in the past have not been treated fairly.
. . . I did point out to [National Urban League Executive Vernon Jordan] that when erroneous or demagogic statements were made inaccurately reporting that neither I nor my own administration nor the Congress cared about those poor people, that since we are the last hope of those who are poor that the government would help them in some way, that this removed from them that prospect of a better life.
Accurate criticisms, fine. But I think to prey upon those who are poor or deprived or who are alienated from society and erroneously report that neither I nor my Cabinet membes not the Congress cares about them does hurt the poor. That was the essence of the conversation.
[Are you saying Mr. Jordan's criticism of you was demagogic or that he was preying upon the fears of the poor people of this country?]
No. As I said earlier. I think Mr. Jordan's statements are certainly legitimate. He has a right to express his own opinion. But I will say this: to the extent that he alleged that neither I nor my administration nor the Congress was concerned about the poor, those statements were erroneous. But I think in his statements both before and after his speech he presented to some degreee both sides: that we had made progress that was not adequate, that our campaign promises had not been kept - they are being kept - and so forth.
But I have no quarrel with Vernon Jordan. I think he is a strong and able spokesman. I think, though, that my statement, my conversation with him, which was very friendly and mutually respectful was an accurate assessment of what I have told you . . .