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Preparations Under Way for Senate Hearing on U.S. ‘foul-up’ in UN

March 7, 1980
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Preparations were underway by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today for a public airing of the “foul-up” by the Carter Administration in dealing with the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, first supported by the U.S. and then repudiated 48 hours later by President Carter.

Sen. Frank Church (D. Idaho), the committee chairman, announced the hearing for next Thursday morning at 10 o’clock. It will be open to the public. invitations from the committee are going out today to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs Harold Saunders, the chief U.S. delegate to the UN, Ambassador Donald McHenry, and the State Department’s legal aide, Roberts Owen.

Sen. Richard Stone (D.Fla.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on the Middle East, will chair the hearings. Church will be in idaho on that day to announce his candidacy for re-election to the Senate.

A committee source said, in reply to questions by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, that White House officials will not be asked to testify at the hearing since, on the basis of previous experience, the White House exercises executive privilege. The JTA was informed that the hearing will involve the following:

ELEMENTS IN THE HEARING

The circumstances and events surrounding the U.S. vote on UN Security Council Resolution 465; U.S. policy on the issues contained in the resolution; and action to be taken by the U.S. to comply with and implement the resolution in view of the fact that the record shows U.S. approval of it despite Carter’s statement disavowing the U.S. vote, In this connection, witnesses will be asked what elements in the resolution the U.S. disavows.

Furthermore, the committee will seek to ascertain what the Carter Administration proposes to do in a formal way at the UN with regard to the resolution that is now an official UN document, In addition, the committee also will seek from the State Department all documents that attest to its contention that the Israeli settlements in the territories it occupied in 1967 are illegal. The Administration has consistently maintained this position and Israel has disputed it. At the State Department today, chief spokesman Hodding Carter said he was “not sure” whether Vance would appear as a witness of the committee hearing next week but noted that the Secretary would be “happy to discuss the matter with the Congress.” He said Vance has “already discussed it with a number of Congressmen.” Asked if Vance would be willing to testify on Carter’s instructions, the spokesman said “until such issues formally are raised” he would not discuss them.

Carter was asked if the problem at the UN last Saturday involved two different texts of the resolution, one which Vance had and the other that McHenry had when they spoke Saturday morning in advance of the vote. The State Department spokesman said he would not discuss this and reiterated that the “basic responsibility” has been taken by Vance and he was not going into “internal details.”

Carter said he would not quarrel with a reported statement by National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski that the resolution was not helpful to the U.S. because it angered the Israelis and the President’s repudiation angered the Arabs.

Meanwhile, as the Carter Administration sought to put a lid on further discussion of the foul-up issue, the Senate committee’s action and statements by various political figures kept the issue in the forefront.

Bill Brock, Republican National Committee chairman, sent a telegram to Carter questioning the Administration’s policy in the Middle East. Brock said, “I am afraid that the recent events leave in question exactly what the policy of the Administration is toward Israel and the entire Middle East region.” He said that by voting to condemn Israel the Administration has “nurtured those very forces that have undermined the peace process and the viability of the State of Israel itself. To declare now that it was done by accident does not excuse the error; it compounds it.”

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