WASHINGTON (May. 1)
A serious fight is expected in the United States Senate tomorrow over the action taken by the Senate last Thursday night, to re-enforce United States opposition to the Arab economic boycott against Israel, by adopting an amendment to the Mutual Security Act reaffirming freedom of the seas and opposing economic warfare, including boycott and blockades.
The amendment, introduced by Senator Paul H. Douglas of Illinois, on behalf of himself and 29 other Senators, was adopted in the Senate by a vote of 45 to 25. Voting for the amendment were, among others, Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, Democratic floor leader, and three other Democratic Presidential aspirants–Senators John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts; Hubert H. Humphrey, of Minnesota; and Stuart Symington, of Missouri.
The Douglas amendment inserted new language in the Foreign Aid bill, giving the President discretion to withhold assistance from nations that obstruct freedom of navigation through international waterways. The Suez Canal is an international waterway.
The Douglas amendment was carried despite bitter objections by Sen. J. W. Ful-bright, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and not with standing strong pressures from the State Department, largely on the alleged ground that the amendment would cause resentment in the Arab world. Senator Fulbright denounced the amendment as “political coercion. ” On Friday he introduced an amendment of his own aimed at neutralizing the Douglas resolution. Discussion on the Fulbright amendment will start in the Senate tomorrow.
Senator Fulbright told the Senate, on the floor, that the Douglas amendment which he would now like to alter through tomorrow’s vote was introduced “not because of the over-all good of the United States, but because of the existence of a pressure group in the United States which seeks to inject the Arab-Israeli dispute into domestic politics. ” He tied the amendment to the picketing of the Egyptian ship Cleopatra in New York harbor. That ship has been immobilized, with its cargo still unloaded, since April 13.
The Douglas amendment and the Cleopatra’s picketing, said Sen. Fulbright, are both moves which he saw as “part of a pattern in which 180,000,000 Americans are being whipsawed by an irresponsible maritime union and by a minority pressure group. ” Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which had previously passed a similar amendment by a vote of 19 to 3, expressed resentment over Sen. Fulbright’s charges. The House of Representatives has passed the amendment as approved by its Foreign Affairs Committee.
SENATORS ALERTED FOR TODAY’S SESSION; URGED TO DEFEAT FULBRIGHT’S MOVE
Senator Douglas, Joined by Sen. Kenneth B. Keating, Republican of New York, sent a telegram late yesterday to a large number of Senators, urging them to be on hand tomorrow to defeat an attempt by Senator Fulbright to “nullify” the Senate’s action of last Thursday. Senators Keating and Douglas said in their telegram:
“To attribute the Senate and the House’s decisions to help end the blockade to a sole concern for Israel and the views of its many American friends is to belittle the considerations and impugn the motives that moved a substantial majority of the Congress to act. Violation of the principle of free navigation in Suez endangers the stability and uneasy peace in the Middle East. It therefore threatens American interests as well as those of other nations. “
The Senators stated that “despite generous loans and increasing economic aid” to the United Arab Republic in the last year, President Gamal Abdel Nasser had in no way relaxed the blockade that had been condemned by the United States and the United Nations. Passage of Senator Fulbright’s “nullifying” amendment would amount to a “damaging retreat” by the United States and a “green light” to President Nasser to persist in his blockade, secure in “the knowledge that it would have no effective protest from this country, ” Senators Keating and Douglas declared.
(The New York Times today reported from Washington that some State Department officials do not agree with the Administration’s opposition to the Douglas-Keating amendment. One official, who has had long experience in the Middle East, said that with the seizure of the Suez Canal in 1956, the United Arab Republic became a “member of the major league. ” Accordingly, this official said, it should behave like a major-leaguer and abide by the accepted rules of international law. The Suez Canal, this official is reported by the Times as having stated, is an international waterway and not “an irrigation ditch between Israel and Egypt.”