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Connally Under Fire

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John Connally’s nine-point Middle East plan, which calls for Israel’s withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders except for "minor" changes, a permanent U.S. military presence in the Mideast, and which would discard the Camp David accords, has come under fire from a number of Congressmen and American Jewish leaders. Senators Howard Baker (R. Ienn.) and Robert Dole (R.Kan.) charged that Connally, a fellow Republican Presidential hopeful, who unveiled his plan last Thursday in an address at the Washington Press Club, is seeking to trade Israel’s security for oil.

Baker, in a speech in the Senate, said Friday: "I am not prepared to accept the sacrifice of Israel as the price of peace in the Mideast or as the hope of moderation in the price of oil." This was a reference to Connally’s statement that the U.S. "must secure a clear understanding" from Saudi Arabia and other oil producers of a return to "stable" oil prices. "The Arabs must, in short, foresake the oil weapon in return for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories," Connally said.

Baker, the Senate minority leader, said that Connally’s Mideast plan "represents a fundamental shift from a political and moral base to an economic base." He added that America’s oil supply "is not a bargaining chip for Mideast peace negotiations."

Dole said that Connally’s speech "looks more like an energy program than a peace plan The speech smacks of trading Israeli security for our oil savings. "Dole also said that Connally’s plan ignores Israel’s need for defensible borders and underrated the achievements of the Camp David accords.


Jewish leaders who attacked Connally charged that he was emerging as the candidate of the oil interests, that he was rehashing the stale arguments of the Arab potentates and dictators, and that he was fostering the notion that the U.S. should submit to Saudi Arabian oil blackmail.

Maxwell Greenberg, national chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, termed Connally’s plea that the Arabs foresake the oil weapon in return for Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines "weak-kneed." The ADL leader asked: "Is Mr. Cannally assuring the American people that our energy problem and Arab gouging would go away if Israel would go away?" Greenberg said the Republican hopeful "ignores the fact that a strong Israel is a major asset to America’s strategic position."

Yehuda Hellman, executive director of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said, "Any attempt to bypass and disregard the Camp David accords agreed upon by Egypt, Israel and the U.S. must be regarded as a disservice to the cause of peace in the Mideast."

Bertram Gold, executive vice president of the American Jewish Committee, charged that to accept Connally’s view on Arab oil prices "is to agree that Saudi Arabia and OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) can decide any aspect of American foreign policy by threatening the U.S. with their oil weapon. We don’t think Americans will, or should, agree to this."

Rabbi Joseph Sternstein, president of the American Zionist Federation, said that Connally’s view of the Camp David accords "has struck hard at what has been a highly productive step toward peace and the only fruitful attempt in that direction in the 31 years since Israel’s establishment."

Jacob Kotzman, chairman of the Labor Zionist Alliance Commission on Israel, Zionism and Jewish Affairs, said "To destroy the results of Camp David, as Mr. Connally would do, is to invite not greater reasonableness in the rest of the Arab camp, but the prospect of unspeakable disaster."

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