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Rogers Appears to Rally Senators Behind His Views on Israel, Mideast Situation

Secretary of State William P. Rogers seemed to have gained the support today of many Senators for his proposals to bring about a peace settlement in the Middle East, following his appearance on the Senate floor where he answered questions dealing with the principle of Israel’s withdrawal from Arab territories. Rogers was smiling broadly when he left the Senate chamber. The Secretary had asked to appear before a closed Senate to present the State Department’s position on the Middle East situation. Despite the fact that Rogers was supposed to address the full Senate only 67 of the 100 Senators were present. The Secretary’s appearance followed a heated debate in the Senate on Tuesday during which a number of Senators attacked Rogers’ plan calling for Israel’s withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders and others spoke out in defense. Observers here felt that Rogers’ appearance today was an effort to avert a polarization between pro-Israel and anti-Israel views in the Senate. Sen. Hugh Scott, Republican of Penn., reported that Rogers had given a “masterful presentation and was favorably received.” Sen. Mike J. Mansfield, Democrat of Montana and Senate Majority Leader, praised Rogers’ “excellent statements” saying he answered all questions and did an “outstanding job.” Sen. J. William Fulbright, Democrat of Mo., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a long-time critic of Israel, said that Rogers’ plan is “very close” to the one proposed by former Israeli Premier David Ben-Gurion, that Israel return all occupied territories except the Golan Heights and Jerusalem.