Why Didn’t N.h. Governor Sign Israel Document? Was It Credibility? Politics?

New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu has refused to sign a pro-Israel proclamation endorsed by his 49 peers reportedly because he said signing would damage his credibility as an Arab-American to facilitate dialogue in the Middle East.

The proclamation, which repudiates the 1975 United Nations resolution equating racism with Zionism, was signed in 1986 by the governors, President Reagan and Congress.

Sununu’s reasoning was reported by Gary Wallin, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Manchester, NH, who met with the Governor twice to petition for his signature. Wallin said Sununu told him that he has “close relationships” with a Saudi Arabian prince and a brother of Jordan king Hussein.

“He said the National Security Council was using him as a conduit for passing information to them and he said he didn’t want to ruin his credibility by issuing the proclamation,” Wallin said.

Sununu’s spokesman, Greta Graham, said such claims are “overblown.”

“I don’t know how it got to the point that some people think the Governor is an operative for the National Security Council shuttling back and forth between the (Middle East) forces, ” she said.

But Graham also said that Sununu, who introduced the keynote speaker at the annual conference here of the National Arab Americans Association last month, has acquaintances in the Arab community which put him in a “unique position” to foster dialogue in the Middle East.

She also said that while Sununu opposes the Zionism-equals-racism doctrine, he does not sign proclamations dealing with foreign policy issues. This was the first reported reason for his refusal to sign the proclamation.

But Wallin countered that Sununu has signed proclamations dealing with such foreign subjects as Bastille Day, Captured Nations Week, Cuba and the invasion of Afghanistan.

Sununu’s refusal to sign the proclamation has made its way into the New Hampshire Republican primary. The Governor, a Republican, is heading up the state campaign of Vice President George Bush. Bush, according to local newspapers, has urged Sununu to sign the proclamation.

One of Bush’s opponents, Rep. Jack Kemp (R.N.Y.), issued a campaign statement Monday calling upon the Vice President to repudiate Sununu who was described as a “loose cannon in international negotiations.”

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