Presidents Conference Chairman Voices ‘regret, Surprise’ over Washington Vexation

The chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations today voiced “regret and surprise” over a report that high Nixon Administration officials were becoming vexed by Jewish criticism of United States participation in the Big Four talks. The same reaction was voiced by Rabbi Herschel Schacter to the report that Administration officials said President Richard M. Nixon and Secretary of State William P. Rogers regard that criticism as impugning their asserted commitments to Israel.

The criticism stemmed from a meeting held with Secretary Rogers, at his invitation last week, and a delegation representing the Conference and headed by Rabbi Schacter. They also conferred with Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Sisco. They told Mr. Rogers that there was an “apparent drift in U.S. policy away from insistence on a negotiated peace” between the Arabs and Israel.

Rabbi Schacter said today that “we did not come to criticize the genuine efforts of the Administration to achieve a permanent peace. We surely did not come to question the sincerity of purpose nor to doubt the integrity of our Government’s motivations. We came only to convey to our Government the deep concern of the American Jewish community over Israel’s security.”

He declared that he had conveyed to Secretary Rogers and Mr. Sisco the Conference’s “true gratitude for the candor with which these substantive matters were discussed, which was both enlightening and encouraging.” The Conference, Rabbi Schacter said, “welcomed the Administration’s reiteration of its determination to help bring about an equitable peace in the Mideast based upon a contractually binding agreement among all the parties to the dispute.”

At no time did any member of the delegation question the integrity of the Administration’s commitment nor seek to “malign” U.S. leadership, he said. “On the contrary, we are deeply heartened and grateful for the repeated assertions of Mr. Nixon and Mr. Rogers that Israel will not be sold out by the U.S. at the Big Four conference, that no peace unfair to Israel would be imposed, and that consent to any settlement must come from the parties directly concerned.” State Department officials have said that there was resentment over the delegation’s general approach to Mr. Rogers and particularly by the attitude of two delegation members.

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