Andrew Young said yesterday the White House had tried to save his job as United Nations ambassador last summer by getting Israel to go "on record as against my resignation," but the attempt was frustrated by Prime Minister Menachem Begin's illness.
Young, who was testifying before the House subcommittee on Africa, made this assertion after the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.), asked whether President Carter had accepted his resignation because of pressure from the American Jewish community.
Young resigned in August after a political furor broke out following the revelation that he had ignored the U.S. policy prohibiting official contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization and had met secretly with the PLO representative at the United Nations. He subsequently rebelled publicly against the administration's refusal to deal with the PLO in seeking a Mideast peace solution.
Several black civil rights leaders followed his lead by calling for U.S. contacts with the PLO, and some even visited Beirut to meet with PLO leader Yasser Arafat. That, in turn, provoked criticism from the American-Jewish community, and other black leaders more recently have attacked those who visited Arafat for endangering relations between American blacks and Jews.
In responding to Solarz, Young said: "At the time, an effort was under way between the White House and the ambassador of Israel that would have put Israel on record as against my resignation."
However, Young added, Begin was hospitalized by a stroke at that time; and, Young said, "We couldn't get an Israeli approval in time."
On response to questions about Young's statement, a spokesman for the Israeli ambassador here, Ephraim Evron, said: "The government of Israel and the ambassador of Israel in Washington never asked for Mr. Young's resignation and were in no way involved in the events that led to it. This was entirely an administration decision."
The spokesman said the embassy would have no further comment.
In his congressional testimony, Young went on to say that he had come to disagree with U.S. policy toward the PLO and had resigned following disclosure of his PLO contacts "because I didn't think I was wrong and would do it again."
He continued: "I don't think black-Jewish tensions are as strong as the press implies." He noted the past close collaboration of blacks and Jews on civil rights and other matters and said:
"I don't think it's a real problem. There are differences, but they are being discussed at the highest level by responsible leaders of both sides."
Solarz then interjected to ask whether it was fair to say that Young's resignation was due to policy differences and not pressure. Young responded:
"It certainly was. It was the result of my having to differ from the policy."
In his other testimony, Young, whose U.N. role formerly made him a leading actor in U.S. efforts to bring about black majority rule in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, said he din't think the current London talks between the government of Prime Minister Abel Muzorewa and Patriotic Front black guerrilla opponents will collapse in disagreement.
Young said he believes the feuding Rhodesian factions came to the British-sponsored London peace conference "because they didn't want to take the blame for not coming. "He added: "I don't think they'll leave because they don't want to take the blame for leaving."
Asked whether the United States should lift economic sanctions against Rhodesia if the Patriotic Front quits the talks, Young said that if the London conference produces a free and fair constitution and elections in Rhodesia, "I don't think we ought to let a stubborn and intransigent Patriot Front block elections."
"But," he added, "we have to be very careful about making that judgment." In his view, Young said, the Patriotic Front is most concerned about having a transition time sufficient to ensure it a fair chance in any new elections, and he said he believes the British government can work that problem out with skillful and patient mediation.