WASHINGTON (Sep. 30)
President Ford warned Congress today to set Oct. 3 as the deadline to approve the stationing of American technicians in Sinai. But it appeared that neither the House nor the Senate would be willing or able to meet this demand. With hearings still scheduled for this week and no resolution yet drafted, experts at the Capitol told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency it would be impossible for Congress to act on a resolution before next week at the earliest and it may be delayed even further.
In a letter dated yesterday to Senate Republican leader Hugh Scott, Ford said further delay “will prevent a lessening of the risks of war.” Egypt and Israel, the President also wrote, had agreed in Geneva Sept. 22 that “the first step in the implementation of the basic agreement under the timetable” they negotiated is scheduled to be taken Oct. 5.
“The process will not begin, however, until the Congress has acted on the proposed United States role in the early warning system,” Fords letter said. “Delay in Congressional action will, therefore, delay implementation of the basic agreement. It will risk causing the lengthy and difficult negotiations on the entire five-month implementing timetable to be reopened. It will prevent a lessening of the risks of war. If for any reason the agreement should fail, the responsibility would be heavy indeed.”
SCOTT URGES PROMPT ACTION
Scott, of Pennsylvania, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in revealing the Ford letter today that for Congress to enter into discussion of “every word of these agreements before they have actually become agreements” goes “beyond the advice and consent of Congress.”
But the majority of the two pertinent committees in Congress do not see it the same way. With both the Senate and House divided on the extent the American commitments to Israel and Egypt should be made available to Congress and how much should be publicly disclosed after that, committees in both chambers will continue to hold hearings this week.
Neither the Senate nor the House has yet a resolution before it–in fact none has yet been drafted in committee. Both the Senate and the House must agree to a joint resolution approving the American presence in Sinai.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which met in executive session today, has scheduled another closed meeting for tomorrow with expectations that Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger will break off his consultations with Foreign Ministers at the United Nations General Assembly session in New York to testify further on the American commitments to Israel and Egypt.
The Senate body also will hold a public hearing Thursday with opponents of the Sinai accord–about a half dozen members of the Arab American Associations and about as many American Jewish opponents–having asked to testify, Sen, James Abourezk (D.S.D.) is listed as the first witness. Department of Defense specialists are to testify before the House International Relations Committee on early warning systems of the kind that will be used in the Sinai.