WASHINGTON (Jan. 1)
Thirteen leading members of the Senate and 16 members of the House were presented today by President Eisenhower with an outline of the developments in the Middle East and on his new plan which he expects to bring before Congress, asking for authorization to use economic, political and, if necessary, military measures to counter Soviet penetration into the Middle East.
The closed meeting, which took place in the White House, was attended also by Vice President Richard M. Nixon, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson and high military officials. The briefing of the members of the Congress lasted several hours.
Meanwhile, State Department sources today stated that the United States attaches top priority to Israeli troop evacuations, not only from Sinai but also from the Gaza Strip. The United States, they said, is mindful of renewed fedayeen raids, but feels this is a secondary issue and feels that Israel should first withdraw from the Gaza Strip as well as from Sinai.
(The New York Times today reported in a cable from Cairo that two top United Nations officials who spent five days in Egypt have assured Egyptian President Nasser that the UN will exert “the utmost pressure” on Israel to speed its withdrawal “behind the 1949 armistice lines.” One of the officials is reported to have told Col. Nasser that UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold was “extremely eager to hasten the Israelis withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip and the Gulf of Akaba.”)
The State Department official pointed out that the Department regards Israel occupation of the Gaza Strip equally as objectionable as occupation by Israel of Sinai territory. The November 2 resolution of the United Nations is being stressed here, with special reference to the call for prompt withdrawal “behind” the 1949 armistice lines.
It was made clear here today that the United States will resist any attempt by Israel to link withdrawal with fedayeen raids, passage through Suez, or any other matter. Israel must first retreat behind the old armistice lines and then the Israel complaints against Egypt will be considered by the United Nations, according to the State Department.
Another high government source voiced similar views, and said Israel cannot expect Resumption of U.S. economic aid until the situation is “clarified” by Israeli withdrawal. American aid has been suspended, in effect, since the outbreak of the recent hostilities.
(A resolution opposing any Israeli retreat from the Gaza Strip was adopted in Tel Aviv today by the General Zionist Party at a meeting of its executive committee.)