WASHINGTON (Feb. 28)
Secretary of State Cyrus Vance asked Congress today to delay action on three bills aimed at the Arab boycott until the Administration and Congress can work out new legislation or suggest amendments to the existing bills.
Appearing at the Senate Banking subcommittee on international finance’s third and last hearing on the bills. Vance said he agreed in principle with the three bills. But he asked the subcommittee to delay action on them until this week’s meeting between the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and The Business Roundtable, a group of leading American business executives. Vance also proposed having the Administration’s experts work with the subcommittee’s staff to “formulate new legislation on which we can agree.”
But Sen. William Proxmire (D. Wis.), chairman of the full Banking Committee, emphasized the subcommittee will write the legislation beginning March 17 as scheduled. He said that the State Department should submit any suggestions before that time.
Vance, under questioning from the five members of the subcommittee who were present, told them that the Administration has “in mind a fresh draft, but if that is not possible” he would be prepared to offer amendments. Sen. John Heinz (R.Pa.) urged Vance to make his suggestions “public” as soon as ready.
CLARIFICATION WOULD BE HELPFUL
Vance said that the bills “as presently drafted” would not harm the present negotiations on the Arab-Israeli conflict, “but it would be helpful” to clarify some of the provisions. He also denied that oil prices would be affected by the legislation since, he said, Saudi Arabia based its decision on oil prices on inflationary repercussions and the effect the prices would have on developing countries. However, Vance noted that “no one can predict for the future on how the boycott will affect the climate” in the Mideast.
Asked by Proxmire whether the State Department “is influencing” the ADL-Roundtable discussion, Vance replied that “We made known our efforts” in the Mideast to them and urged them not to be “detrimental of our foreign policy interests.” He added, “I believe they are working in that direction.”
Committee sources said after today’s hearing that the Administration’s objections center on the “extraterritorial” provisions of the bills that would bar American subsidiaries abroad from complying with Arab demands; visa requirements such as those in Saudi Arabia which bar most Jews, and the question of how to deal with American-made equipment which includes components manufactured by firms on the Arab blacklist.
Vance, who discussed the boycott with Arab leaders on his recent trip to the Middle East, said today the “principle concern” of the Arab countries is that the U.S. not “dictate to them how to draft their laws.”
The Secretary agreed with the provision in the Williams-Proxmire bill which allows “positive” certificates naming the country of origin or manufacture of a product but prohibits “negative” certificates which state that goods being shipped to Arab countries are not of Israeli origin. The Stevenson bill allows “negative” certificates. This is the principal difference between the two bills. Jewish groups have favored the Williams-Proxmire version.
The Bingham bill in the House is identical to the Williams-Proxmire legislation. All three measures forbid American companies from complying with Arab demands not to deal with Israel or American firms that trade with Israel.