Menu JTA Search

Mcgovern: Israel Has Right to Exist, Palestinians Entitled to Homeland

Sen. George McGovern (D.SD) declared that he supports Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s efforts in the Middle East, that Israel has a right to exist as a “permanent, independent Jewish State” and that the Palestinians “are entitled to an independent national homeland of their own.” McGovern’s remarks, which he intends to make at a press conference in Jerusalem tomorrow, were given to newsmen here today.

This action was considered to be unusual and was apparently a reaction to reports that followed his 90-minute meeting with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat in Beirut after which he was represented as indicating a favorable attitude toward the PLO’s views. However, McGovern in a telephone call to his Washington office said the news reports were “not reliable” and “incorrect.”

McGovern, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Middle Eastern Affairs, said in his press statement that despite media reports, “there is no ‘McGovern plan’ and the only time I have used the word plan, even in private, was to deny that I have one.”

But his statement declared that he supports both Kissinger’s efforts and the recent attempt by Congress “to assume our Constitutional responsibilities to set the parameters of American foreign policy.” He said he has tried to “see beyond the passions and prejudices to the realities of the Middle East.”


The first reality, according to McGovern, “is the fact of a permanent, independent Jewish State. The recognition of this reality is, indeed, essential to a peaceful settlement of the issues facing the area.” The second reality “is the increasing power of permanent, independent Arab states, some of them richly-endowed with oil, but all of them rich in historical and cultural values.” The third reality is “the presence of several million Palestinians with thousands of years of history behind them but with an uncertain future and unsatisfactory present. They are entitled to an independent national homeland of their own.”

McGovern’s statement stressed that the only press conference he held in the Mideast was in Israel, the last of the Mideast countries he visited. He said that before he left the United States he promised to “keep an open mind toward the plans of others–no matter how extreme. So I have accepted opportunities to listen to the views of many diverse personalities and I am continuing that course in Israel.”