16 Senators Sign Bi-partisan Statement Supporting Israel in Current Crisis

Sixteen members of the Senate today subscribed to a joint, bipartisan statement expressing concern over what they said was a disproportionate measure of blame placed upon Israel by the United Nations in the current Mideast crisis. The statement noted that the UN condemned Israel for its Dec. 28 reprisal raid at the Beirut International Airport but made “no reference to the direct threat to Israel’s survival posed by the continuing raids into Israel — with their mounting toll in lives and property — by Arab guerrillas operating from the Arab states — states that have maintained a state of war with Israel for 20 years and which harbor and officially encourage the guerrillas.”

The Senators noted that “the Israelis are fighting for their very lives as their Arab neighbors, bolstered by Soviet military and diplomatic support, again openly threaten to obliterate them.” It was stressed that the conflict should be viewed in its total context and perspective. Concern was voiced over the “rapidly deteriorating situation” and emphasis placed on efforts of the United Nations peace mission, headed by Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring.

The statement, submitted at a Senate press conference today, was circulated by Sens. Jacob K. Javits, New York Republican, and Walter F. Mondale, Minnesota Democrat. Signatories included Sens. Clifford P. Case, Republican, and Harrison A. Williams, Democrat, both of New Jersey; Hugh Scott and Richard S. Schweiker, both Pennsylvania Republicans; Stephen M. Young, Democrat, and William Saxbe. Republican, both of Ohio; and Charles E. Goodell, New York Republican; Peter H. Dominick, Colorado Republican; Philip A. Hart, Michigan Democrat; George Murphy, California Republican; William Proxmire, Wisconsin Democrat; Abraham Ribicoff, Connecticut Democrat; Joseph D. Tydings, Maryland Democrat; and Fred Harris, Oklahoma Democrat.

MANY REFUSE TO SIGN, FEAR ‘ANOTHER VIETNAM’

It was learned that many Senators who publicly supported Israel during the recent election campaign refused to subscribe to the statement. One Senator, asking to remain anonymous, said he personally sympathized with Israel but refused to sign the statement because “there is fear in my state of our having to save Israel or any other country, a fear of getting sucked into another Vietnam.”

The four points of the statement would seek to: 1 Establish a policy seeking permanent peace in the Middle East involving implementation of the UN resolution of Nov. 22, 1967, “with each provision being related to the other rather than being based upon Israel’s withdrawal from occupied territories in return only for paper promises from the Arab states.”

2. Maintain the arms balance lest the “radical Arab states” be tempted into resumption of full-scale war. “The U.S. has already demonstrated its policy in this respect by signing a contract to sell 50 supersonic jets to Israel, an action which we support and approve. The American people do not want to see a situation where Israel will be so threatened that outside participation is called for to assure its very survival. It would be helpful to this effort for the USSR to join in limiting its supply of strategic military weapons to the radical Arab states, and to accept the right of an independent and free Israel to exist alongside its Arab neighbors within secure and recognized boundaries.”

3. Call for “the most urgent consideration of the settlement of the Arab refugees…about half of the refugees holding UNRWA ration cards are now within the de facto jurisdiction of Israel itself, making them much more available to settlement.”

4. To encourage an organization for economic cooperation in the Middle East seeking trade relations and technical cooperation.

It was apparent from the Senators’ comments to the press that their stand fell short of out-right advocacy of American military commitment to Israel’s survival. Sen. Javits stressed “Israel’s capacity to stand on her own if she gets some little help from us.” He called Israel’s reprisal policy as one of self-defense rather than aggression and said the American public was “surprised” by the severity of the U.S. stand against Israel at the UN. He said it was necessary to understand the Israeli action at Beirut, termed it an “unfortunate event.” and said it was “impossible to expect a precisely measured response from people fighting for their very lives.”

Sen. Scott, newly-elected assistant Republican leader of the Senate, charged that the UN “never recognized Arab terrorism” as the factor that led to Israel’s action. He said the UN concentrated on Israeli responses to obscure the “cruel conduct” of the Arab nations that refuse to make peace. Sen. Goodell said regional peace was upset by the “radical Arab terrorists.” Among the leading Senators who backed Israel during the recent election campaign but declined to affix their signatures to the statement when it was circulated today were Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat and Eugene McCarthy, Minnesota Democrat.

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