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Jackson: Israel’s Inquiry Panel Has Had ‘real Impact’ on Congress

Sen. Henry Jackson (D. Wash.) said today that Israel’s official inquiry into the Beirut refugee camps massacres has had a “real impact” on members of Congress who had earlier considered reducing U.S. aid to Israel. At the same time, he indicated that if Jordan does not join the Camp David peace process, it might not receive the weapons it is seeking from the U.S.

Jackson, answering questions on the NBC-TV “Meet the Press” program, noted that he had urged a commission of inquiry into the Beirut massacres. “If the Israelis follow through in a decisive manner, “I think it’s going to make a lot of difference,” he said. “Here is a democracy willing to take tough steps, if necessary to punish the government if they are wrong. That is unusual.”

As for Jordan, Jackson noted that it has “waited a long time” to enter the peace negotiations. “Congress feels strongly that Jordan has a responsibility to come into the talks. That is a must.” He added that whether Congress approves the weapons Jordan’s seeking is “dependent on their willingness to fully participate in the Camp David talks.”

ISSUE OF WEST BANK SETTLEMENTS

When columnist Rowland Evans asked if American taxpayers should continue to “subsidize” Israel’s establishment of settlements on the West Bank, Jackson replied that “I personally feel that it would be wise for the Israelis to stop further settlements at this time.”

But he added, “Let us remember that when we are talking about Israel, that it is the only ally we have out there that has credibility… Israel is a very important ally, democracy, that we can rely on in the event that the situation in the Persian Gulf should fall apart. The other Arab countries have no credibility in terms of a deterrent farce in the area.”

On the West Bank, Jackson said he supports a “self-governing arrangement” for the Palestinians but that “sovereignty and defense and notional security” should be kept in Israel’s hands. “Otherwise there is no way you can have defensible borders,” he said.

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