Impeachment Proceedings Against Nixon Downplayed in Israel

The news of the historic action of the House Judiciary Committee in recommending the impeachment of President Nixon was received in Israel with interest and concern but not with the attention so momentous an event deserved, observers here agreed today. They attributed the relatively low-key reaction here to a welter of problems suddenly faced by Israelis, notably the unsuccessful attempt by a group of Orthodox Jewish families to establish an illegal settlement near Nablus in the West Bank over the weekend.

Israelis also were grappling with problems of energy shortages, a partial strike by media workers which has curtailed radio and television broadcasts, and warnings of the possibility of a new war breaking out toward the end of the year.

As has been the situation since Nixon’s Watergate troubles began more than a year ago, the government has maintained total silence, a correct attitude toward what is considered at the official level as totally an internal American affair.

The proceedings in the House Judiciary Committee have failed, to date, to evoke any editorial reaction from any of the major newspapers. Man on the street comments also have been limited to such remarks as, “You know, he is the best President we ever had in the United States,” and. “After all, had it not been for Nixon, we might not have received what we did in the Yom Kippur War”–a reference to the President’s quick action in providing emergency airlifts of urgently needed military equipment to Israel.

Other Israelis simply shrugged their shoulders and said, “It’s an American affair altogether. Let them solve their problems. We have enough on our hands with Jordan, Egypt, Syria–and the mortality rate in traffic accidents.” Israeli officials reported one of the worst weeks in such accidents, with the number of deaths reaching 30, a record.

Some Israelis, reportedly not very many, are prepared to accept an impeachment if the President is proved to be really involved in the Watergate affair. But the general popular view seems to be, according to observers, that the impeachment procedures have not been completed and that it is better to wait and see. But, in terms of Israel’s needs, there seems to be no question among Israelis generally that Nixon has been a good President.

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