WASHINGTON (Oct. 7)
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee moved today toward a resolution approving the stationing of American civilian technicians in the Sinai desert after hearing Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger reiterate his agreement to the reservation that the presence stands alone as a U.S. commitment and that “many provisions” of the four agreements with Israel and Egypt collateral to that presence “are not binding commitments of the U.S.” Kissinger agreed that the technicians may be removed by either the President or Congress at their will.
Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D.Minn.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “a near unanimous vote” approving the stationing of American technicians in Sinai could be expected by the committee late today and that the full Senate would act before the end of the week.
The House, whose International Relations Committee has already unanimously adopted a resolution of approval, is also expected to act shortly. Approval of Congress is required before the Sinai accord and the four collateral agreements reached by the U.S. with Israel and Egypt go into effect.
A threat of long delay over the resolution approving the dispatch of up to 200 American technicians to Sinai dissipated today as the weight of the leadership of both major parties in the Senate was brought to bear for speedy approval. Only a handful of Senators appeared ready to challenge the American presence in Sinai. Minority leader Hugh Scott (R.Pa.) espoused the Administration’s view in committee, and Deputy majority leader Robert Byrd (D. W. Va.) gave it full support in a floor speech.
Indications grew, however, that after approval of the monitoring role of Americans in Sinai, the Senate would debate at length whether the collateral agreements are to be considered as treaties requiring a two-thirds vote of Congress to be put into effect. Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton (D.Mo.) told the committee that he questioned the “Constitutional validity.” of the executive agreements.
NOT LINKED WITH COLLATERAL AGREEMENTS
Kissinger testified with regard to the U.S. undertakings, including its 16-point agreement with Israel, that the Administration is “particularly concerned” that Congressional approval of the stationing of technicians not be linked to the collateral agreements. He said the U.S. undertakings are “distinct and separate” from the proposal for the technicians and that U.S. statements of intentions should “not be given a legally binding character which was never intended and is not inherent in them.”
Kissinger disclosed, however that yesterday he gave the Senate committee a classified legal analysis of which undertakings are “binding” and which are not. That analysis has not been disclosed by the committee so far. Under questioning by Sen. Clayborn Pell (D.R.I.), Kissinger seemed to indicate that only the U.S. guarantee of oil for Israel is binding.
“Except for the oil the rest of the documents are basically statements of good faith and intent?” Pell asked. Kissinger replied, “That is generally correct.” Virtually all questions on the collateral agreements concerned the U.S. memorandum with Israel.
Particularly questioned was the Administration’s pledge to “consult promptly” with the Israel government with “respect to what support, diplomatic and otherwise, or assistance it can lend Israel” in accordance with “U.S. Constitutional practices” should Israel face “threats” to its security or sovereignty from a world power. Several Senators construed this to be a commitment and a treaty matter.
STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS COMING TO AN END
Sen. George McGovern (D.SD) asked Kissinger if the step-by-step diplomatic process can be pursued further, observing that “You can’t deal with the Palestinians on a step-by-step basis.” Kissinger replied. “I agree.” He added that “We are coming to an end of the step-by-step process,” and noted that “the step-by-step approach sooner or later must merge with an overall approach.” McGovern said he would propose a resolution to bring about an annual review and a report by the President on Congress’ desire to press toward an overall settlement. Kissinger responded. “We would not object to that.”
When Sen. Charles Percy (R.Ill.) observed that objectors to the Sinai accord alleged that the U.S. had “used up all its leverage” with Israel, Kissinger replied that it would be a “mistake to consider our relations with Israel as if a balance sheet has to be struck every day.” He added that “Our views will weigh heavily with any Israeli government.”
Kissinger also said that until the Palestine Liberation Organization recognizes the existence of Israel and accepts Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, “we won’t recognize the PLO.” He stressed, nevertheless that “a final settlement must provide for the future of the Palestinians.” Kissinger said that “no formal talks” have been held with Israel on a Palestinian entity.
SENATE COMMITTEE APPROVAL BY 10-2
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a 10-2 vote adopted this afternoon the House International Relations Committee’s resolution approving the sending of 200 U.S. technicians to the Sinai. The Senate will vote on the resolution tomorrow, and the House is expected to follow soon. Democratic Majority Leader Mike Mansfield of Montana and Sen. Joseph Biden (D.Del.) voted against the resolution, Sen. Dick Clark (D.Iowa) who voted for the resolution, said he will propose three amendments tomorrow.