Rosenthal: Israel Grateful to U.S. for Aid but Concerned About U.S. Intentions

Rep. Benjamin S. Rosenthal (D.N.Y.), just back from an official Congressional trip to Israel, Vienna and Geneva as head of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee for Europe, said today that for the first time the people of Israel have “a deep apprehension of what the future holds for them.” He said the Israelis “know that the Russians will not let them have the victory for which they paid in blood. They are grateful to the United States for resupplying them with weapons.” But, he added, the Israelis are also “deeply concerned about U.S. intentions and must be reassured. The U.S. can urge peace,” he said, but the Israelis feel “only a peace negotiated with the parties can last.”

Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s promise of a U.S. military guarantee to Israel. Rosenthal said, is insufficient to the Israelis because they have “little confidence in guarantees and they feel they must depend on themselves.” The U.S., he said, must take the lead in showing the world that the Arab oil blackmail cannot succeed. The European back must be stiffened. The Arabs will keep on making demands until they meet resistance. The British Empire for example cannot take orders from Kuwait, he noted.

“For the first time that I know of” Rosenthal said of his observations in Israel, “many people in Israel are not certain of their government’s leadership. The Meir government is under grave pressure. Some leaders will get bruised if not more seriously affected than that,” he said with reference to Israel’s elections due Dec. 31 and the investigation of Israel’s defenses and strategy in the 18-day Yom Kippur war. “The Israelis were not prepared for the war even though they went on to win an incredible military victory,” Rosenthal said. “They also know they cannot maintain a high level of mobilization because of the economic cost.”

In Vienna, Rosenthal said the Subcommittee was informed that Schoenau Castle will be closed definitely in about a week. The castle has been the transit site for the Soviet Jews bound for Israel. It has been a point of controversy after Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky capitulated to Arab terrorist demands and ordered it closed. However, Rosenthal said, the Austrian authorities are “thoroughly prepared” to continue handling Soviet-Jewish emigration and “will maintain a transit facility” temporarily at a former Austrian army camp. He described that facility as seemingly satisfactory. The Austrian government, he said, will build a new facility near the Vienna Airport in about six months. It will be operated by the Red Cross instead of the Jewish Agency which handled the Schoenau Castle.

Rosenthal was accompanied on the 10-day trip by two other Democratic members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee–Reps. Charles Wilson of Texas and Ray Taylor of North Carolina. In Geneva they were joined by Rep. Edward I. Koch and in Israel by Rep. Bella Abzug, both New York Democrats. The House Armed Services Committee also has returned from a visit to Egypt and Israel, including tours of the Suez battlegrounds. The Committee is expected to make a statement tomorrow.

NEXT STORY