WASHINGTON (Jun. 25)
Three contenders for the Democratic Presidential nomination expressed sharply divergent views on the Middle East conflict in hearings before the Democratic Platform Committee here yesterday. Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D.Minn.) and Sen. Edmund B. Muskie (D.Me.) urged the committee drafting their party’s platform to write in a strong statement of comprehensive US support for Israel and advocated that the US recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D.NY), the only Black and the only woman campaigning for the nomination, accused her opponents of using “rhetoric designed to attract the votes of the Jewish people” and claimed they ignored the Palestinians whom “you cannot sweep under the rug.”
Mrs. Chisholm contended that the refugee problem was the “root cause of the problem of the Middle East.” Former Sen. Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota, who was a Presidential contender in 1968 and again this year, called for an endorsement of Israeli security on “moral and legal grounds.” Sen. George McGovern (D.SD), currently the front runner in the Democratic nomination sweepstakes urged a strong pro-Israel plank when he appeared before a Platform Committee panel in New York Thursday.
‘THREATENING POWDER KEG’
Sen., Humphrey described the Middle East as the “world’s most threatening powder keg, ready to ignite at any moment.” He said the Soviet Union continues to supply Arab countries with “provocative weapons,” military technicians and diplomatic support “which only serve to bolster their intransigence towards reaching a comprehensive agreement with Israel.” The former Vice President declared that the US “must convince the Soviet Union to assume a stand-off position in the Middle East and reach an agreement whereby neither country attempts to obstruct negotiations.”
Sen. Muskie likewise urged the US to maintain strong support for Israel and stressed the need for “direct negotiations between the parties involved” in the Mideast conflict and “preservation of the unity of Jerusalem with free access to the holy places, backed by US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” Muskie also urged the Platform Committee to support “freedom of navigation through the Suez Canal and the Straits of Tiran; resettlement and compensation of refugees, Arab and Jewish; effective controls to end terrorism and hijacking; the end of economic warfare, boycotts and blockades; and de-escalation of the arms race.”
MRS. CHISHOLM’S PROGRAM
Mrs. Chisholm’s remarks on the Middle East were contained in her “Presidential campaign position paper no. 2″ in which she outlined a five-point program for the stability and territorial integrity of all states in the region, guaranteed by the United Nations. Her paper made no reference to Security Council resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967 which is generally accepted by all parties as the framework for a future Mideast peace settlement. Nor did it refer to any of the Israeli or American viewpoints regarding settlement of the refugee problem or any other factor in the Middle East.
Her charge that her opponents were trying to woo the Jewish vote was made when she was asked pointedly why she does not oppose the resolution of the National Black Political Convention in Gary, Ind. on March 12, that, in effect, called for the dismantling of Israel. Mrs. Chisholm said, “The creation of the State of Israel in Palestine was meant to be a form of ultimate moral redress by the West for the atrocities committed against Jews throughout their long history.” But, she went on, “in the midst of rejoicing at the creation of a national homeland for the Jews, the world overlooked the hardship and misery created for the Palestinians.”
Mrs. Chisholm’s proposals to the Platform Committee included a recommendation that the US resume diplomatic relations with all Mideast governments; increased economic aid to the less-developed nations of the region; a limitation of arms shipments to the region and full representation for the Palestinians in all negotiations concerning the return or compensation for Palestinian Arab property, Observers at the committee hearings thought that Mrs. Chisholm’s remarks on the Middle East constituted a bid for attention from elements in the Democratic Party, who, like certain elements in the Republican Party, have been questioning US support for Israel.