WASHINGTON (Jan. 25)
President Richard M. Nixon Sunday indicated in a message to the National Emergency Conference on Peace in the Middle East that the United States would meet Israel’s arms needs and gave reassurance that this country would not attempt to “impose” a peace settlement. Mr. Nixon’s message was read to the conference by Max Fisher, of Detroit Mich., a Jewish leader and friend of the President. Mr. Nixon said “the U.S. is prepared to supply military equipment necessary to support the efforts of friendly governments, like Israel’s, to defend the safety of their people. We would prefer restraint in the shipment of arms to this area. But we are maintaining a careful watch on the relative strength of the forces there, and we will not hesitate to provide arms to friendly states as the need arises.”
The President also stated: “I am aware of your deep concern that Israel may become increasingly isolated. This is not true as far as the United States is concerned. The United States stands by its friends. Israel is one of its friends. The United States is deeply engaged in trying to help the people of the Middle East find peace. In this effort, we are consulting fully with all of those most concerned. The United States believes that peace can be based only on agreement between the parties and that agreement can be achieved only through negotiations between them. We do not see any substitute for such negotiations if peace and security arrangements acceptable to the parties are to be worked out. The United States does not intend to negotiate the terms of peace. It will not impose the terms of peace. We believe a durable peace agreement is one that is not one-sided and is one that all sides have a vested interest in maintaining. The United Nations resolution of November, 1967, described the principles of such a peace.”
DR. WEXLER WELCOMES NIXON’S MESSAGE AS SHOWING CONCERN
Dr. William A. Wexler, President of B’nai B’rith and newly-elected chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, addressed the conference of more than 1,000 persons from throughout the nation. Dr. Wexler said “we welcome President Nixon’s message. It shows that he understands and shares our concern.” Dr. Wexler said the President’s words indicated to him that the President “wants no further erosion in American policy.” He stressed that “our disagreement with American policy has not been over motivations or intentions but over tactics.” He assailed recent State Department initiatives as having “poorly served American interests, American prestige, American credibility.”
Sen. Fred R. Harris, of Oklahoma, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, addressed the conference with a charge that the Nixon administration was changing “traditional policy toward Israel” and Jeopardizing that country. He called for a public explanation of the shift. He said it was “not in the national interest of the United States to try–unasked–to negotiate for the Israelis.” He said that Israelis had “good reasons for their fears.” He asked that the U.S. Government refrain from being “the architect of a settlement which settles nothing, but tends toward yet another round of war.” Harris said that many Americans had questioned U.S. involvement in Vietnam but that “the American stake in the future of the State of Israel is not debatable.” He favorably noted Israel’s need for financial help and arms.
REPUBLICAN LEADER SAYS U.S. SUPPORT TO ISRAEL WILL NOT WEAKEN
Sen. Gordon Allott of Colorado, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee told the conference that he knew that President Nixon would do “everything he can both economically and militarily to assure the security of Israel, short of supplying manpower in the area.” He added “there can be no question of any weakening of support for Israel’s sovereignty, security and strength by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government has no intention of permitting Israel to become militarily vulnerable. The Phantom aircraft which continue to arrive in Israel are evidence of this fact.”
Rabbi Herschel Schacter, retiring chairman of the Presidents Conference presided. Other speakers included Prof. Hans J. Morgenthau of the University of Chicago; Father Edward H. Flannery, executive secretary for Catholic-Jewish Relations, National Conference of Bishops; Dr. Franklin Littell, Prof. of Religion, Temple University, and Andrew Young, executive vice-president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the movement created by the late Rev. Martin Luther King. Jr.