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Congressman Cautions U.S. Not to Plunge Too Deeply into Mideast Conflict

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Rep. Donald Fraser (D.Minn.) has warned that the United States must not become involved so deeply with peace-making efforts in the Middle East “that we will be held responsible” if they failed and led the U.S. to take on “the role of policeman of the Middle East.” Fraser is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations and Movements which recently heard grievance statements from pro-Palestinian American and Israeli witnesses over Israel’s administration of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He spoke at 50th anniversary ceremonies for the Beth E1 Synagogue in St. Louis Park, Minn. Excerpts of his address were made available here.

Expressing hope that further progress could be made toward an Arab-Israel settlement, in efforts to follow the disengagement accords between Israel and Egypt and Syria, Rep. Fraser cautioned against the United States becoming too closely identified with the agreements, though he noted that Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger had said the U.S. is not a “guarantor” of the agreements.

He said Arab extremists could regain the upper hand in Cairo, Damascus or even Amman and commit themselves anew to recovery of lost Arab territory by war. He said a breakdown of law in Lebanon could enable the Palestinian guerrillas to foment violence and terror in Israel on a greater scale than ever before. He also warned that the Soviet Union could block efforts for a settlement at the Geneva Mideast peace conference. “The United States must do its best to see to it” that “these threats do not materialize,” he said, but he cautioned that U.S. Mideast peace efforts “must not be such that we will be held responsible for the breakdown of that peace” and allow “an Indochina syndrome” to develop in which the United States “would accept for itself the role of policeman of the Middle East.”

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