WASHINGTON (Oct. 10)
Congressional leaders of both parties today gave unanimous backing to the Nixon Administration’s “position” on the Middle East war but the Administration’s precise position itself was left unclear. This assessment came after 10 Senators and nine Representatives emerged from a hurriedly summoned bipartisan leadership meeting at the White House with President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger to receive their reports on the military status and the diplomatic activities concerned with it.
“As far as the Congressional elements at the meeting this morning are concerned,” Senate Democratic Leader Mike Mansfield of Montana told newsmen, “we are unanimously behind the positions undertaken by the President and Mr. Kissinger to bring about a cease-fire and a settlement in the Middle East.” Describing the mood of the Congressional leaders and of the President as “serious,” Mansfield, when asked how long the fighting might continue, said grimly “It was indicated it would not be a Six-Day War.”
Mansfield and other Congressional figures at the hour-long session sidestepped two direct questions on the Soviet position toward the fighting. They seemed to be wary against exacerbating American relations with both the Soviet Union and the Arab states.
REPORTS OF SOVIET AIRLIFT-TO EGYPT
The meeting took place as unofficial reports were received here that the Soviet Union had started an airlift to resupply Egypt and Syria with “very large tonnages” of military equipment. There was also a report that a Soviet cruiser and two destroyers had passed from the Black Sea through the Turkish straits and into the Mediterranean to join a new-style Soviet cruiser equipped with surface-to-air missiles which entered the Mediterranean prior to the Egyptian-Syrian attacks on Israel.
At the same time, the Norfolk (Va.) Ledger Star reported today that a Boeing 707 jet airliner with Israeli markings on its tail was being loaded with air-to-air missiles and bombs at the U.S. Naval Air Station at nearby Oceana. The paper sold that earlier today a C-141 cargo plane from the U.S. Military Air Command landed at Oceana near the Israeli plane. There was no further immediate information available.
U.S. IN DAILY CONTACT WITH PARTIES IN CONFLICT
After the meeting between the Congressional leaders and Nixon, the lawmakers were asked for views on the Soviet encouragement of the Arab aggressors. Sen. Manfield said that the matter “did come up in passing” and immediately went on to say that the United States is in “daily contact” with the Soviet Union, the Republic of China, Western European countries and the parties in the conflict. When asked about the continuation of U.S. supplies of weapons to Israel, Sen. Mansfield replied “the matter is under advisement.”
Republican Senate leader Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania observed similarly that “As far as the situation in the Middle East is concerned, there is no change in our desire to maintain contact with all the states in the area.” But he went on to note that “We have never lost interest in those countries of the Middle East” and “this is historically true of Israel.”
Scott pointed out that the Mansfield-Scott resolution, adopted unanimously by voice vote in the Senate Oct. 8 was in keeping with the “general policy” of the Administration but he noted, significantly it seemed to observers, that the resolution “was initiated without prior contact” with the White House. The resolution calls for a pullback by the forces to the lines of Oct. 5 the day before the attacks, and for more stable conditions which would lead to peace in the area.
However, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency had been informed on the day the resolution was adopted that Sen. Scott had read the text twice on the phone to Secretary Kissinger at the State Department and that Dr. Kissinger had expressed himself as finding “no fault with it.” In addition. Sen. Mansfield earlier today said that Dr. Kissinger knew about the Mansfield-Scott resolution and “did not object to it.”
Sen. J. William Fulbright (D.Ark.) told newsmen that “I find no fault with the Administration–or what the Secretary of State is attempting to do–to bring it to an early end and lay the basis for a more permanent settlement with due regard for UN resolutions of the past.” Sen. Fulbright refused to discuss “details” of the meeting, saying “there were too many viewpoints.” His use of the plural “UN resolutions” indicated he had in mind others than that of Nov. 22, 1967.
OPPOSED TO U.S. MILITARY INTERVENTION
At a breakfast meeting with newsmen this morning, Mansfield expressed opposition to U.S. forces becoming involved in the conflict. Asked whether the U.S. would intervene if the war were to go badly against Israel, Sen. Mansfield replied: “Under no circumstances should the United States intervene on the side of Israel. When I say no more Vietnams I include Israel and Ulster where my parents emigrated from.”
Asked about the supplying of U.S. arms to Israel, Sen, Mansfield said that he would oppose that “unless the other side does.” Sen; Mansfield has consistently opposed U.S. government credits to Israel for the purchase of American arms and is also against the Jackson Amendment affecting Soviet trade and emigration policies.
State Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey, questioned about the Soviet airlift reports, replied that “we have had some indications” about the Soviet airlift but added that he could not be “specific and that the USSR “may be attempting this kind of effort.” He added, “If this turns out to be a massive airlift, it would tend to put a new face on the situation” in the Middle East. He stressed, however, that “I don’t want to make a charge about something not confirmed.”
President Nixon, arriving in the East Room of the White House to present national medals to scientists, said that the U.S. “is trying its best” to mediate “a very dangerous situation in the Middle East” and that the U.S. “is playing a responsible role, very fair to both sides.” The President did not elaborate and gave no indication of progress in his efforts to bring about a cease-fire in the Mideast war zone. (By Joseph Polakoff, JTA Washington Bureau Chief)
According to the Israel Ministry of Tourism in New York there were 12,000 Americans in Israel when the “Yom Kippur” War broke out. The Director General of the Ministry of Tourism. Hanoch Givton, visiting in New York at the time the war broke out said that there was only minimal discomfort for the 30,000 tourists in Israel now and for the estimated 12.000 Americans who were part of the total.