WASHINGTON (Feb. 5)
The Department of State official in charge of Near Eastern affairs, Rodger P. Davies, addressing the national policy conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee here today, expressed understanding of Israel’s dilemma in dealing with Arab terrorism, but outlined reasons why the United States opposes military retaliation by Israel.
Mr. Davies, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, termed Arab terrorism “morally reprehensible, politically irresponsible and a primary cause for the recently increased tensions on Israel’s borders.” Although he deplored such terrorism, Mr. Davies stressed that United States policy was one of “even-handedness” in the region, and that Israeli reprisals were deemed counter-productive and equally deplorable in that they were “morally deplorable” and also escalated tensions and undermined stability of the whole region. He said the United States was determined to maintain good relations with both Arabs and Israelis, to use its “power and influence” to prevent or contain conflict and to “reinforce trends toward reconciliation.”
Mr. Davies said the United States would be interested in an agreement with Russia to limit arms shipments to the Near East, but there was no evidence to indicate Moscow was so inclined. He said he saw indications of Moscow’s continuing aim to expand footholds in that region. But he saw no evidence that the Soviet Union wanted a military conflagration in the Near East. He said “even-handedness” did not mean “abandonment of principle.” He pointed out that “moral judgment must enter into decision-making on a case-by-case basis,” and said the United States had taken a “forthright position against aggression by either side.”
Yesterday, Douglas MacArthur 2nd, Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations, told Rep. Seymour Halpern, New York Republican, that the Soviet Union had shown no interest in Washington’s approaches seeking limitations on arms shipment to the Middle East.
He informed Mr. Halpern, in reply to a query from the latter regarding American policy in the Near East, that “we have made repeated, quiet efforts over the years to interest the Soviet Union in arrangements designed to limit arms shipments to the areas,” adding: “so far, at least, the Soviets show no interest in our approaches.” He declared the State Department would continue to give high priority to the efforts for limitations on the Near East arms race.
HARMAN OPPOSES EQUATING AGGRESSORS WITH VICTIMS OF AGGRESSION
Israel Ambassador Avraham Harman later told the conference that there “can be no equalization between the aggressor and the victim of aggression.” He asked for “persistent and continuous affirmation that the world will not tolerate aggression, and that the world demands peace.” Mr. Harman said that Israel “exhibited great patience” during the last two years “in the face of the systematic and planned attacks.” But when “that patience has been rewarded by the intensification of aggression,” he said, “we have acted in self-defense to make it clear that those who are responsible for it are not immune, and that the governments which signed the armistice agreements with us are responsible for preventing their territories being used for attack against us.”
The national policy conference was attended by several hundred Jewish leaders from throughout the nation. It adopted a policy statement urging the United States to “enlist the cooperation of the Soviet Union to bring about a relaxation of tensions in the area, specifically by an agreement to reduce the flow of arms and to foster direct negotiations between the Arab states and Israel.” Fending such agreement, the conference urged Washington to “ensure maintenance of the arms balance in the region.”
The conference also called for a Congressional inquiry to determine whether stronger legislation was needed to curb the Arab boycott and to protect American businessmen. ## condemned misuse of United Nations relief funds to feed the terrorist “Palestine Liberation Army,” and called on Washington to consider a plan to allocate aid for refugee rehabilitation directly to Arab states willing to use the funds to employ and absorb refugees.
Mrs. Mortimer Jacobson, president of Hadassah, presided over the conference as acting chairman of AIPAC. Mrs. Jacobson stated that the United States and other powers had made no significant move to promote Arab-Israel peace but took serious action in conflicts in Asia and elsewhere.