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Democratic Party Convention Pledges to Seek End of Arab Boycott

The Democratic National Convention today adopted its official 1960 platform clarifying the attitude of the Democratic Party toward various problems in the Middle East, including the Arab-Israel situation.

“In the Middle East,” the platform pledges, “we will work for guarantees to insure independence for all states. We will encourage direct Arab-Israel peace negotiations, the resettlement of Arab refugees in lands where there is room and opportunity for them, an end to boycotts and blockades, and unrestricted use of the Suez Canal by all nations.”

The platform called for continued economic aid to Israel and the Arab states. It said: “We urge continued economic assistance to Israel and the Arab peoples to help them raise their living standards. We pledge our best efforts for peace in the Middle East by seeking to prevent an arms race while guarding against the dangers of a military imbalance resulting from Soviet arms shipments.”

The platform also noted foreign discrimination against American citizens on a religious basis such as that practiced by the Arab states. It called for “protection of rights of American citizens to travel, to pursue lawful trade and to engage in other lawful activities abroad without distinction as to race or religion.” Such protection was termed a “cardinal function of the national sovereignty.”

The platform said: “We will oppose any international agreement or treaty which, by its terms or practices, differentiates among American citizens on grounds of race or religion.”

The platform pledged to adjust immigration, nationality and refugee policies “to eliminate discrimination and to enable members of scattered families abroad to be united with relatives already in our midst.” It denounced the national origins quota system, called for the admission of a greater number of immigrants, removal of distinctions between native-born and naturalized citizens and called for action by a Democratic President to implant a new and liberal spirit in American immigration law.

The convention’s request for “direct” Arab-Israel peace negotiations represented the first time since 1952 that a Democratic platform has contained such a call for direct talks. The platform appeared to reject efforts by Chairman J.W. Fulbright of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and others to transfer the burden of responsibility for Arab refugees to Israel. This was indicated by the platform’s call for resettlement of Arab refugees in Arab countries while no mention was made of compensation or re-admission by Israel.

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