WASHINGTON (May. 15)
Three leading contenders for the Republican nomination for the presidency put their views on Israel and the Middle East on record today. All three called for supply of American arms to Israel to redress the balance of power upset by the Soviet rearming of the Arab states. Former Vice President Richard M. Nixon and Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York stated their positions in letters to Rep. Seymour Halpern, New York Republican and a leading advocate of military aid to Israel. The views of Gov. Ronald Reagan of California were brought to the attention of the Senate today by Sen. George Murphy, California Republican.
Mr. Nixon voiced concern over “the (Johnson) Administration’s inexplicable policy toward Israel.” He said that “the first urgency is for America not to allow the balance of power to shift in favor of the militant Arab states bent on a new war. To this end, the United States must see to it that Israel’s military strength is never at a level vis-a-vis the Arab militants that will invite a war of revenge, the consequences of which we could not possibly foresee and which at all costs we must avoid.” He said that “the United States must deal directly with the Soviets and impress upon them both the urgency of keeping their clients in check and the dangers inherent to the peace in any renewal of the kind of wholesale Soviet irresponsibility evident just prior to the recent conflict.”
Mr. Nixon said the United States should take the lead in forging an acceptable settlement, Such a settlement, he said, must include “solid guarantees that the currently occupied territories will never again be used as bases of aggression or sanctuaries for terrorism. Access for ships of all nations through the re-opened Suez Canal and the Straits of Tiran should be guaranteed. It should include recognition of Israel’s sovereignty, its right to exist in peace, and an end to the state of belligerency.
“With regard to the occupied territories,” he added, “it is not realistic to expect Israel to surrender these vital bargaining counters in the absence of a genuine peace and effective guarantee, However, it is also my view that for Israel to take formal and final possession of these occupied areas would be a grave mistake.”
Gov. Rockefeller told Rep. Halpern that a brief statement of his position on arms shipments to the Mideast was that “I prefer that no arms be sold to anybody, by either side” but “I favor that the United States do what it can to maintain a military balance between Israel and the Arab states.”
Gov. Reagan was quoted by Sen. Murphy as declaring that “only that one tiny nation” has stood “manning the ramparts’ against the Communist drive to dominate the Middle East,” referring to Israel’s role in the Six-Day War and subsequently. He asserted that “those who were then in full retreat have been re-armed” by Russia. He asserted that the Israelis “deserve better from us. They must be provided the weapons to match the Soviet arms now aimed at their nation’s heart.” The Californian advocated for Israelis “a guarantee of their borders, as well as the sovereignty of their nation.” He stressed that “Israel met its challenge. It is time for us to meet ours.” He said that Americans acknowledged “with great gratitude” Israel’s “heroic fight” last June.