Protracted Senate Debate Seen on U.S. Presence in Sinai
Menu JTA Search

Protracted Senate Debate Seen on U.S. Presence in Sinai

Download PDF for this date

Protracted Senate debate before it votes on the Administration’s assignment of 200 American civilian technicians to monitor surveillance posts in Sinai appeared likely today in a move by a small number of Senators to thwart the agreements reached by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger with both Egypt and Israel, but particularly with Israel.

At the first session of extended open hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a group of vocal opponents of the step-by-step diplomacy practiced in the Middle East by Kissinger and elements hostile toward Israel and partisan to the Palestinians, fought quick approval of the American presence in Sinai.

One prominent member of the committee, noting the possibility of a filibuster, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “Any Senator can start a filibuster but cloture will be invoked to stop it. The votes are there.”

Three Democratic Senators were in the vanguard of demands that the Administration’s assurances and undertakings in its four agreements with Egypt and Israel be associated with the technicians and be considered formal treaties by the U.S. that would require approval by two-thirds of the Senate. The Senators were Richard Clark of Iowa and James Biden, of Delaware, both members of the committee, and James Abourezk of South Dakota, who is not a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.


Abourezk led off a parade of witnesses opposed to the American presence which included representatives of Arab-American associations, Jewish groups apart from the established American-Jewish organizations and the right-wing Liberty Lobby. He charged in his testimony that the Administration is “paying” Israel directly “with arms” and the Arabs with “higher oil prices.”

Abourezk stressed that the agreement on technicians “is a treaty no matter what label is put on it” and that the Sinai accord, as a whole, represents “a giant step back” from an overall settlement because it separates Egypt from the other Arab states. He contended that all the Arab states and the Palestinians must be included in any agreement. When Abourezk spoke at length about the Palestinians and hurled charges against Israel, he was reminded by committee chairman Sen. John Sparkman (D,Ala.), that the purpose of the hearings concerned the 200 technicians.

Sens. Frank Church (D.Ida.), Clifford Case (R.NJ), and Charles Percy (R.III.) were among several Senators who took issue with Abourezk. Percy referred to Israeli Foreign Minister Yigal Allon’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly last week which, he said, showed that Israel is “fully alive to the problem” of the Palestinians.


Another prominent witness today was former Undersecretary of State George Ball who said that while he did not favor a vote against the technicians because that would destroy the Israeli-Egyptian accord, he felt that step-by-step diplomacy was leading to an arms race in the Middle East and a U.S.-Soviet confrontation there. Ball demanded that the Administration establish an “objective and independent position with regard to the terms” of an overall settlement and said the U.S. should assert “its declaration of independence from Israel.”

Jacob K. Javits (R.NY), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, contradicted Ball’s contention that it was important how either Israel or Egypt interpreted U.S. undertakings. “I don’t care how Jerusalem and Cairo interpret them. Congress is the only power to determine what we will do,” Javits said.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund