WASHINGTON (Mar. 2)
Former Gov. William Scranton of Pennsylvania told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today that he stood “four square with our policy” in the Middle East and at the United Nations and pledged that “whatever is U.S. policy I will carry it out.” He added. for emphasis. “I mean it.”
Scranton, who has been nominated by President Ford to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations succeeding Daniel P Moynihan submitted to close questioning by seven members of the Foreign Relations Committee, who dwelt at length on his views of the Middle East situation and on the anti-Israel actions of the UN.
These matters assumed particular importance in the Senate Committee’s hearings on his nomina tion because of the controversy aroused in 1968 when Scranton, returning from a special mission to the Middle East on behalf of then President-elect Nixon, recommended that the U.S. adopt a “more even-handed policy” in that region. This was widely interpreted at the time as meaning an edging away from Israel and toward the Arab states.
SUMMARIZES 1968 REPORT
Asked directly about his 1968 recommendations by Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R.NY), who observed that they had “caused considerable apprehension,” Scranton reviewed the situation that he had found in the Middle East at that time and summarized the contents of his report to Nixon which is still classified secret. Scranton said that in 1968 the Russians were making “tremendous strides” in the Middle East, particularly in Egypt, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and that an Iraqi army was inside the borders of Jordan.
He said his report to Nixon contained three basic recommendations for U.S. policy: to help achieve a peaceful settlement; to continue to support Israel as “our most important ally in the Middle East”; and to improve “.S. relations with the Arab countries, specifically Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Scranton said that since he made his report, the U.S. has made “giant strides” and has made “friends with the Arabs.” The U.S., he testified, has “brought progress, certainly no millennium, toward peace.”
DENOUNCES ANTI-ZIONIST RESOLUTION
Questioned by Javits about the discrimination against Israel at the UN and specifically, the General Assembly’s anti-Zionist resolutions and its attacks on Israel but not on PLO terrorism, Scranton said the U.S. role in the UN has been “very effectively pointed out” by Moynihan and that he “thoroughly supports the American position.”
He described the resolution equating Zionism with racism as “a thoroughly horrible resolution” and observed that “Zionism is a national movement and has a right in the present world.” Scranton described the situation in the UN as an “everybody-jump-on-Israel sort of performance” which he deplored.
Asked by Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D. Minn.) if he thought the U.S. should continue to withhold funds from UNESCO until that agency corrected its anti-Israel actions taken in 1974, Scranton agreed. He said, however, that he was “very hopeful” that UNESCO would resume its work in Israel and that a first step in that direction would be taken at the forthcoming UNESCO meeting in Nairobi.
Sen. Charles Percy (R.Ill.) asked the nominee if he thought some resolution of the Palestinian problem and Israel’s departure from the occupied territories “beyond its original borders” were essential to achieve a Middle East peace. Scranton replied “that might be interpreted as an over-simplification. They are very important parts but others are equally important,” he said. Percy observed that terrorist raids were also an issue and that it would take good will on both sides to resolve the Mideast conflict, Scranton agreed.
No member of the Senate committee expressed any opposition to Scranton. He was strongly endorsed by the two Senators from his state. Hugh Scott, the Republican Minority Leader, and Richard Schweiker, both close supporters of Israel. Humphrey, another supporter of Israel, said he had discussed the Middle East with Scranton privately and found him “very satisfactory on those issues.”
Scranton’s confirmation by the full Senate is considered virtually certain. He would take up his duties at the UN about March 13, after a brief vacation, Scranton told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.