WASHINGTON (May. 3)
State Department officials refrained today from comment on the rejection by the United States Senate last night of the Administration’s opposition to the amendment to the Mutual Security Aid bill aimed at checking the Arab boycott against Israel.
The amendment, which was introduced by Senator Paul Douglas, Illinois Democrat, on behalf of himself and 29 other Senators, was approved Thursday in the Senate by a vote of 45 to 25 over the strong objections expressed by Senator J. W. Fulbright, Arkansas Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and who was supported by the State Department.
Senator Fulbright introduced a second amendment to the foreign aid bill, aimed at weakening the Douglas amendment. The Fulbright amendment was defeated last night by a vote on a motion by Senate Democratic leader Lyndon Johnson to table. The vote to table the Fulbright amendment was 45 to 39.
The Douglas amendment, which was retained intact in the adopted final version of the bill, expressed the sense of Congress that Mutual Security and surplus food assistance should be administered by the President in line with the principles of free navigation and non-discrimination.
Senator Fulbright, in the course of last night’s debate, sought to blame Israel for alleged failure to obey a United Nations resolution on re-admission of Arab refugees. He also inferentially attacked American aid to Israel.
The Senator called the attention of Senators to letters from Acting Secretary of State Douglas Dillon and Secretary of the Treasury Robert Anderson which, in effect, supported his proposed amendment. He also alleged that some American shippers backed his stand.
Senator Fulbright’s bitter onslaught against Israel came when a Senator questioned aid to the Republic of South Korea, noting that corruption developed in South Korea despite such aid. Senator Fulbright replied that if aid to South Korea caused corruption, Israel might be “the most corrupt of all nations” since Israel had received so much American assistance.
Some proponents of the Douglas Amendment defended it on grounds that the President need not implement the measure if he so decided. It was also said by some Senators that the President was only obligated to make a form of informal, perhaps oral, report on measures taken by the Administration to insure application. But Senator Wayne Morse, Oregon Democrat, insisted that the President was fully obligated to make a written report to Congress on implementation of the amendment.
Senator Fulbright attempted to persuade the Senate that Arab pressure was aimed against Israeli shipping rather than American shipping. He claimed that the Douglas Amendment was a “political instrument” and gave an impression of anti-Arab bias. He said Senators had no Arab constituents and suggested that his opponents were moved by “political considerations “that caused action undermining American-Arab amity.
SENATORS REFUTE PRO-ARAB ARGUMENTS IN HEATED SENATE DEBATE
Senator Douglas said the State Department arguments advanced by Senator Fulbright rested on a fundamental error. He said this was the erroneous contention that the freedom of navigation issue merely involved a dispute between the Arabs and Israel. This was not true, said Sen. Douglas, pointing out that the United Arab Republic had violated treaties and international commitments involving the Sues. Canal.
President Nasser broke his word and UN Secretary General Hammarskjold failed to gain Nasser’s cooperation on Suez, said Sen. Douglas. He characterized Nasser’s policy as increasingly repressive and deplored State Department “appeasement” by increasing aid to the UAR to 100 million dollars. The State Department, said Sen. Douglas, apparently had decided that morality should play no part in formulation of American policy in the Near East.
Senator Fulbright attacked Sen. Douglas, alleging that Israel violated UN resolutions on Arab refugees. Senator Douglas replied that Sen. Fulbright was trying to “shift the subject.”
Senator Morse said the true issue was whether the United States was going to “bend at its knees” before totalitarian nations. He charged that the Arabs are seeking “to destroy the only free nation in the Near East–Israel.” Senator Morse called on the Administration to stand firm against Arab “blackmail” by supporting international law.
Senator Kenneth Keating, New York Republican, said there could be no compromise on the principle of free navigation. He said the Fulbright Amendment would encourage Nasser to make “further transgressions.” He added that the Arab Refugee issue that Sen. Fulbright sought to inject had nothing to do with the blockade question affecting American nationals.