Congressmen Question Assurances by U.S. to Israel on Retaliation

Israel’s “assurances” of U.S. political support should it be forced to retaliate against Arab terrorists from Syria were described by several key members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee today as “vague” and not meeting the problem. Their comments, invited by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, were made after Undersecretary of State Joseph J. Sisco told the committee yesterday that the American assurances to Israel did not constitute a “carte blanche for indiscriminate retaliation.”

“Nobody knows what it means,” Rep. Benjamin Rosenthal (D.NY), chairman of the Committee’s European subcommittee told the JTA. Rep. Lee Hamilton (D.Ind.), who heads the Near East subcommittee noted that virtually all terrorist attacks on Israel emanate from Palestinian camps in Lebanon, not Syria. Rep. Jonathan Bingham (D.NY) described the assurances given Premier Golda Meir by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger as “slight” and “vague,” adding, “I can’t define it.”

Mrs. Meir announced the assurances to the Knesset two weeks ago in her last appearance before parliament as Premier. They were never specifically announced by the U.S. State Department spokesmen, when asked, referred reporters to Premier Meir’s Knesset statement. Last Thursday, Kissinger refused to say whether the Syrians had given him assurances they would act against the terrorists and dodged a question from the JTA as to why he did not give Israel similar assurances regarding terrorist attacks from Lebanon. (By Joseph Polakoff)

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