Kennedy’s Letter to Arab Rulers on Refugee Issue Criticized in Senate

Three Senators today raised a question on the Senate floor of whether the Administration was embarking on a policy of wooing the Arabs at Israel’s expense.

Senator Kenneth Keating, New York Republican, questioned President Kennedy’s letters to Arab rulers on repatriation of Arab refugees and the recent executive department decision to furnish rockets to the United Arab Republic. Senator Keating said the recent rocket episode appeared “another attempt to woo the friendship of the Arabs by one-sided concessions.”

Senator Keating told the Senate: “It is beginning to appear that the United States was making a series of piecemeal concessions to the Arab states in the hope that they will, as a result, be inclined toward more conciliatory policies vis-a-vis Israel. I do not think that an American policy of concessions here and there will have the desired result at all.”

Commenting on the Arab refugee situation, he said the “only practical solution is the re settlement of most in Arab territory. Yet the President’s letter of May 11 does not refer to resettlement but speaks only of repatriation and/or compensation.” He questioned whether the shipment of rockets by the U.S. to Nasser served the cause of Near Eastern peace.

Senator Hugh Scott, Pennsylvania Republican, stated it was “disturbing” to read President Kennedy’s letters to Arab rulers on repatriation and compensation of Arab refugees. He said “resettlement” was not even mentioned. He asked “Does this omission represent a change of view or repudiation of former policy?”

Senator Jacob K. Javits, New York Republican, called on Congress to restore to the Foreign Aid Bill a policy statement against Arab bias affecting American citizens. He said Congress should not abandon an anti-bias measure in the pending legislation because “in the present Near East situation, omission of clear language could easily be misunderstood and taken as encouragement to intensify discrimination against American citizens.”

Senator Javits criticized President Kennedy’s omission of reference to “resettlement” of Arab refugees in the President’s letter to Arab leaders. He said the omission was “difficult to understand.” He pointed out that “such an omission invites speculation” about a softening of U.S. policy. He urged the U.S. to work for resettlement of Arab refugees in Arab lands where there is room and need for them, compensation for property abandoned in Israel, and an end to boycotts, discrimination and other obstacles to the free flow of trade and regional development.

In the House, Rep. Victor Anfuso, New York Democrat, today warned against arguments being advanced by Washington officials “in high places, who believe that by appeasing Nasser the United States will be able to thwart further Soviet penetration in the Middle East and Africa.” He termed such notions “fallacious” and said Washington “must take into account the simple fact that the United Arab Republic is governed by an unscrupulous regime, which has sought to play East against West.”

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