WASHINGTON (May. 22)
State Department officials, alarmed at the possibility after the Maalot massacre that Congress would insist the U.S. government take the issue of Arab terrorism to the UN Security Council, succeeded in blocking this demand on President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. The demands of Congress were embodied in bi-partisan resolutions introduced in the Senate May 15, the day of the Maalot massacre, and in the House a day later. Both condemned the outrage and urged U.S. government action.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned today at both houses of Congress that these Department officials, pleading with Republican leaders at the Capitol, brought about deletion of the demand from the resolution before it was unanimously adopted by the Senate and permanently stalled formal passage of the entire resolution in the House.
These officials declared to the Republican leaders — their normal first line of contact under the Republican Administration — that presenting the condemnation of the Arab terrorists in the Security Council would lead to acrimonious international debate at a critical point in Kissinger’s efforts to arrange disengagement of Syrian and Israeli forces. Although both Republicans and Democrats unanimously were appalled by the massacre they heeded the appeal to avoid possibility of being charged with obstructing Kissinger’s efforts, the JTA was told.
Virtually identically worded bi-partisan resolutions drafted for the Senate May 15 and for the house on the following day called for U.S. action in the council. The resolution also asked Nixon and Kissinger to urge nations harboring terrorists to rid their countries of them and to call upon all governments to condemn the massacre.
However, before Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D., Minn.) presented the “sense of the Senate resolution” on the floor with 47 Senators sponsoring it, the demand on the Council was deleted. In weakened form, the resolution was unanimously adopted. The same pressure tactics were adopted in the House but Rep. Sidney Yates (D., III). who drafted it, refused to accept the watered down version. The Department’s liaison officials with Congress were then said to have spread the word that they would ask Congressmen friendly to them to fight the resolution on the floor.
This fight was averted when Democratic leader Thomas P. O’Neill of Mass. and Republican leader John Rhodes of Arizona introduced the resolution with 325 sponsors — virtually three-fourths of the membership of both parties. With the resolution thus on the Congressional record, no formal vote was taken.