WASHINGTON (Dec. 13)
Administration spokesmen strongly upheld President Nixon’s request for $2.2 billion in military aid for Israel at hearings today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They clashed with witnesses opposed, to the measure and disputed committee chairman Sen. J.William Fulbright’s contention that there was no urgency to act on the President’s request and that its passage at this time might have adverse affects on the Arab-Israeli peace conference due to open in Geneva next Tuesday.
Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Rush, one of the Administration witnesses; argued that on the contrary, the $2.2 billion was essential now “to give assurances to Israel” and a “warning to the Arabs” not to start the war again. Rush said the Administration wants the measure passed by both Houses before Congress adjourns for its five-week Christmas recess. The measure was overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday. Other Administration spokesmen appearing before the committee today were William Clements. Deputy Secretary of Defense and Adm. Thomas Moorer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. All called the $2.2 billion essential to U.S. policy in the Middle East.
AID MEASURE ASSAILED
The measure was vigorously opposed by Rep. James A. McClure (R.Idaho) who said the U.S. was obliged to help Israel defend her pre-June, 1967 borders against aggression “but we should not do more. We cannot have one set of standards for the Arabs and another for Israel; our policy should be based on our own self-interest,” McClure said. He decried use of the term “oil blackmail” to characterize the current Arab oil embargo of the West.
McClure recently returned from a visit to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan and Kuwait He admitted.to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency later that the Kuwaiti government had paid the air fare for himself and an aide on the trip but said he paid his own hotel bills and other expenses.
Sen. Fulbright repeatedly referred to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan’s remarks while in the U.S. last weekend that Israel was “never stronger” and questioned its need for $2.2 billion in weapons. Rush replied that Israel’s strength was relative. He said it might be stronger than ever but weaker in absolute terms than its enemies. Sen. James Abourezk (D.SD) denounced the Administration’s “bankrupt policy in the Middle East.” he argued that it was “ludicrous” for Congress to appropriate huge amounts for military assistance to Israel when refusing social programs for U.S. citizens.
Clements, who met with Dayan last Saturday, said the Israeli defense chief was “worried,” and had made it clear that Israel “needs supplies and needs them badly. We can’t wait until the horse is out of the gate to close the gate.” he said, stressing that Israel’s strength must be compared to the strength of its adversaries.
FULBRIGHT, RUSH CLASH
Fulbright quoted figures on past U.S. aid to Israel. He said the U.S. had given Israel $5.7 billion in loans or grants between 1949 and June 30, 1974. which breaks down to $833 for every man, woman and child in Israel, He observed that the United Jewish Appeal had supplied Israel with $1.6 billion in tax exempt donations from 1948-71 and the Israel Bond Organization a like amount in the same period.
Rush contested the figures. He said that between 1949-73, the U.S. gave Israel $3.1 billion in total assistance including $522 million in grants and loans of $2.5 billion. He said this was exclusive of $1 billion in and given during the 18-day Yom Kippur War.
Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee approved a measure today calling for $1.7 billion in grants to Israel with the balance of $.5 billion to be spent by the President if needed but subject to Congress’ approval. The House Foreign Affairs Committee, on Tuesday, approved an authorization bill calling for $1 billion in grants to Israel. The balance would be provided in the form of grants or loans at the Administration’s discretion with repayment. Lover 25 years.