House Subcommittee Recommends U.S. Seek Formal Relationship with Israel; Options Include Nato Member

The House subcommittee on the Near East recommended in a lengthy report released yesterday that the US government seek “some more formal relationship with Israel” if that would help advance a peace settlement between Israel and her Arab neighbors. Although the report did not spell out the precise type of relationship the subcommittee favored, its preamble listed six options, including membership for Israel in NATO.

The report was based on hearings conducted by the subcommittee last summer under the chairmanship of Rep. Lee H. Hamilton (D., Ind.). It was presented to the subcommittee’s parent body, the House Foreign Affairs Committee headed by Rep. Thomas E. Morgan (D., Pa.).

The report stated: “While the mood of the vast majority of the American people is against any further political or military commitments overseas, some more formal relationship with Israel is worthy of consideration if it will encourage and accompany a peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict and would be designed to ensure it.” It noted that such “a bilateral or multilateral relationship” should give “Israel reliable assurances of physical security in an Israeli territory defined by borders accepted on all sides of the dispute and by the big powers.”

MUTUAL DEFENSE PACT AN OPTION

The options listed in the preamble are: continuation of the present informal US-Israeli relationship without any contracted obligations or treaty, a relationship that has been supported by successive presidents since the late 1940s; big-power guarantees with or without a big power presence to insure a settlement agreed to by the parties and preserve the territorial integrity of all states; a US security guarantee which would involve a unilateral American commitment to Israel in a guardian ward relationship.

The other options included a US-Israeli mutual defense pact in a relationship of partnership and cooperation; a US-Israeli treaty of friendship and cooperation which would give Israel a reasonable mix of control over its own security policy and support and cooperation from the US in case of a threat to its security; and Israeli membership in NATO which has the deterrent value vis-a-vis the Soviet Union of making Israel part of the Western defense system.

U.S.-USSR ARMS FLOW CONTROL URGED

The subcommittee report said that “from the Israeli point of view, the types of relationship it prefers depends on the kind of settlement and its built-in guarantees.” The report acknowledged that because of the make-up of the United Nations and the experience of 1967 when UN forces were withdrawn at Egypt’s request, “the Israeli government is chary of any international guarantee involving the United Nations.”

“UN guarantees are, to the Israelis, no substitute for a binding peace between the parties,” the report said, “However,” it added, “other viewpoints see an important role for the UN in providing the framework for a peace settlement and helping keep the peace. Israeli and Egyptian participation in a UN peacekeeping force could overcome some of those problems.”

The report urged the US to “work more vigorously for an understanding with the Soviet Union to control the arms flow to the Middle East and, generally, reduce tensions.” The US, it said, “is unlikely to be able to get a compromise settlement in the Middle East without reaching certain understandings with the Soviet Union.”

The subcommittee report said the members did not “share the administration’s optimism” on the possibility of achieving an interim agreement to reopen the Suez Canal but it commended Secretary of State William P. Rogers and Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco nevertheless for their efforts to help Israel and Egypt reach such an accord.

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