Stassen Optimistic on Israel; Testifies Before Senate Committee

The prediction that economic conditions in Israel will become normal in five years was made before a Senate committee here by Harold Stassen, former director of the now defunct Foreign Operations Administration which distributed American economic aid to Israel.

“I think the great determination of their people and their resourcefulness, and their intelligence is such that Israel will make a go of it and be on their feet in an other five years.” Mr. Stassen said, testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee on the foreign aid bill.

In his testimony, released today, Mr. Stassen, who is now Special Assistant to the President on disarmament, cited Israel’s economic progress over the years. He said that American economic aid to Israel used to be approximately 70 million dollars a year, but the amount has been tapered down as “they (Israel) get on their feet.”

Senator Allen Joseph Ellender, Louisiana Democrat, questioned why Israel is allotted so much money when it receives funds apart from that in the bill from the U.S. Mr. Stassen replied: “Israel maintains a different standard of living, and it has been mostly people who have come in from Europe or have been fleeing from persecution and even murder in other parts of the world, so you have a different kind of a situation.” He stressed that Eric Johnston’s water development plan for the Jordan River is the “best hope” for a “better situation between Israel and the Arab states.”

Sen. Ellender reviewed his impressions of the Middle East gained during a recent trip. He termed the Arab-Israel situation “the most explosive in the world, in my humble judgment, almost as bad as Russia.” He said, “it is my honest belief that this matter will never be settled unless some of these Arabs go back to Israel.” The Louisiana Senator called for a re-evaluation of the Arab refugee problem. He said that in Jordan there are over 460,000 refugees. “The little sum of 65 million dollars that is being appropriated here, plus what is contributed by the UN, gives to each person there about $20 per year to furnish a diet of about 1,100 calories a day.” He said the refugee problem is “very explosive” and a “firm effort” should be made to settle that issue this year if possible.

Senator Everett Dirksen, Illinois Republican, recommended the settlement of Arab refugees in Iraq, because it is an under populated country. He said Lebanon will not issue work permits to the refugees and will not admit them to citizenship.

Senator Dirksen said refugee’s children are being born at the rate of 25,000 a year; 60 percent of the Arab refugees are now under 16 years of age, he stated. “The refugee problem is going to blow us out of the water unless it is solved.” He said, “it occurs to me that somewhere along the line we are going to have to dump a little more money in this thing in the hope that some of them can be absorbed in Iraq.”

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