WASHINGTON (Jan. 10)
Former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, testifying today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on President Eisenhower’s new Middle East plan, said that it is “vague, uncertain, and inadequate” as a Middle Eastern policy. Among other things, he called upon the Congress to formulate a policy to meet the basic problems of the Middle East–the Israel-Arab conflict and the Suez Canal dispute.
“Having participated so prominently in the establishment of Israel in the midst of the Arab world, whether wisely or no is now irrelevant, this government,” he said, “can not properly abandon Israel to be overwhelmed by armed attack and its people dispersed. From this same prominent participation in the creation of Israel, it also follows that this government cannot properly leave Israel free to attack her neighbors.”
“These statements,” he continued, “I am quite aware raise the whole complicated series of disputes through which Israel and her neighbors have just passed. How large an attack is an aggression which justifies a counter-attack? Who is the aggressor to be opposed?”
Mr. Acheson told the Foreign Affairs Committee he saw no need for great haste in evacuation by Israel of the Gaza Strip. He expressed a hope that the Gaza Strip’s future might be talked about some more. In response to questioning, Mr. Acheson said he saw “nothing particularly sacred” about the 1949 Israel-Arab armistice lines. He indicated that concessions might be made to Egypt but that he desired that they not be made.
Mr. Acheson suggested that the U, S. has a responsibility to establish, underwrite, and support with force an international arrangement for preventing either Arab or Israel government-supported raiding and attacks by taking the responsibility for punishment “by way of retaliation or otherwise as might be necessary.” He said that while the policy might be unpopular in some quarters, it would be helpful and would have a substantial chance for execution through international negotiation and organization.
Concerning the Suez Canal dispute, Mr. Acheson said the present situation encourages Egyptian Premier Nasser to be obdurate in refusing a control and management of the canal which would give safeguards to nations whose very life depends on the freedom and efficiency of the Canal. He said Congress could be in favor of providing means alternative to the Suez Canal for transporting oil by pipeline in an area under United Nations administration and protection. He suggested that such an area might serve the dual purpose of interposing a demilitarized strip between Israel and Egypt.
President Eisenhower, in his State of the Union message to Congress today, re-iterated the “vital and immediate importance to the nation’s and the free world’s security and peace” of Congressional authorization of his proposed Middle East doctrine against Communism. The President said “by our proposed programs in the Middle East, we hope to assist in establishing a climate in which constructive and long term solutions to basic problems of the area may be sought.”