WASHINGTON (Aug. 12)
The House Foreign Affairs Committee formally reported today that it was “encouraged” that some progress had been made in implementation of non-discrimination policies of the Foreign Assistance Act, and that some Arab states have “eased travel restrictions affecting American citizens of the Jewish faith.” “However,” said the committee report, “forward movement has been slow and further effort is required. Congress has repeatedly insisted that no country receiving U.S. aid should make distinctions among our citizens on the basis of religion or race.”
The committee noted that, while aid programs have contributed to economic progress in the Near East, and there was evidence that Soviet influence sustained setbacks in some countries of the region, “the Near East continues to be unstable.”
It was concluded by the committee’s study that “there has been no progress toward an Arab-Israel peace, and little progress toward settlement of the conflicts that divide the Arab states.” The committee pointed out that virulent threats disrupt stability, and warned of the growing arms race. “This arms race began with conventional weapons which the Soviet bloc furnished to Egypt in 1955, and has been intensified in kind and in proportion until there is now danger of escalation to more sophisticated weapons.”
The committee observed that “while Israel continues to make rapid economic progress, it has been compelled to go deeply into debt in the effort to maintain the arms balance.” The committee held that an arms race nullified the salutary effects of U.S. economic assistance, and raised the threat of hostilities. In the committee’s view, “our aid to Israel and the Arab states should be administered so as to discourage conflict and to promote stability in the area.”
“Consideration should be given,” stated the committee, “to the withholding of economic assistance from those countries which persist in policies of belligerence, and in preparations for their execution, and to entering into security guarantees with those nations that would be willing to make appropriate commitments for promoting peace and stability in the area.” The committee expressed belief that assistance to Egypt should not be continued unless that country honored an agreement for withdrawal of Egyptian forces from Yemen.
ARAB REFUGEE ISSUE REMAINS A PROBLEM; $24,700,000 UNRWA GIFT PROPOSED
Meanwhile, the Administration has informed the committee that, although the Palestine Arab refugee problem remains, a number of initiatives are under way which ultimately should lead to the achievement of a greater degree of self-support by the refugees, and a lessening of the need for U.S. assistance.
The Foreign Affairs Committee reported, however, that the task of caring for “the over 1,100,000 Palestine refugees” remains pending the achievement of a political solution. But the committee expressed belief that, “for the immediate future at least, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees appears to be the most economical means of providing essential basic services to the refugees.”
The committee proposed that the U.S. contribution to UNRWA for fiscal year 1964 remain at the same level as in fiscal 1963–$24,700,000, of which $17,200,000 would represent a cash contribution to the UNRWA budget and $7,500,000 would be made available under the Food-for-Peace program. This would represent about 70 per cent of total estimated contributions to UNRWA. There are 39 countries contributing to UNRWA.