WASHINGTON (Mar. 20)
Secretary of State Cyrus Vance told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today that the Carter Administration would not disavow completely the anti-Israel resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council on March 1 and refused to say that the Administration would not support another resolution of a similar nature in September when the matter of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories comes up again.
Vance, appearing alone, again accepted full responsibility for the “foul-up” in communications that led to U.S. support for the resolution and its subsequent repudiation by President Carter He insisted that the President’s repudiation two days after the vote was sufficient and that the Administration will not present that repudiation to the Scarify Council.
Vance said that East Jerusalem “is occupied territory” and that the use of the word “Palestinian” in reference to people and territories in the resolution was merely “demographic” and had been used before in UN resolution.
Sen. Frank Church (D.Idaho), chairman of the committee, indicated displeasure at the absence of Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs Harold Sounders and UN Ambassador Donald McHenry, who had been invited by the committee to testify. He commended Vance, however, as having been “very helpful in clearing the air.” But he said the committee “reserves its option to call witnesses and make decisions after receiving your testimony” and regarding “any further hearings.”
SAYS U.S. VOTE WAS ‘SIGNAL’ TO ISRAEL
Vance, in a prepared statement to the committee, emphasized the approaching meetings in Washington next month between Carter and President Anwar Sodot of Egypt and separately between Carter and premier Menachem Begin of Israel. He reiterated that “negotiations are necessary for the purpose of carrying out all the provisions and principles”of UN Secretary Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
However, Vance mode it plain that the intention of the U.S. in supporting the March I Security Council resolution was to “signal” the government of Israel to halt new settlements in the “occupied. territories.” He said that this issue had been discussed “many times” with the Israelis and that “there are a number of people in Israel who believe we should express our views.” He did not identify them. Vance said it was “not true” that the President’s repudiation of the resolution resulted from domestic political pressure.
INTENSE QUESTIONING BY SENATORS
Vance was questioned intensely by Sen. Jacob Javits (R.NY) and Richard Stone (D.Fla.), both of whom urged that the Administration repudiate the resolution completely. Javits told Vance, “As a trained diplomat and lawyer, you know that every word in this (resolution) has meaning. if it is only past policy, why repeat it? Why not disavow the whole thing? Why don’t we have a clear break?”
Vance replied that the references to Jerusalem and the occupied territories as Palestinian or Arab territory in the text of the resolution “has no morning at all regarding sovereignty.” Javits replied, “That’s not satisfactory.” He added, “It only spells more trouble in days ahead because it (the resolution) is unnecessary and raises suspicions. You leave us no choice. We hope you will consider this. Let’s clean the decks. Give us a chance to forget it.”
Stone pointed out that the resolution is not solely “recommendatory” and “not binding” as Vance had testified. He noted that the resolution calls for the UN Commission to report bock to the Security Council in September on whether Israel has indeed dismantled the settlements in East Jerusalem and else-where as the resolution states. He asked whether “We will veto it if it becomes binding in September.” He also asked if “some” of the resolution could be binding in September.
Vance declined to give a specific response. “It would depend on what will be put before the UN in September,” he said. He acknowledged that “I did not envisage some items” regarding the settlements that the Carter Administration did approve. Stone, his voice rising, said, “We’ll be right bock in the soup with communications and words.”
PRESSED ON EAST JERUSALEM
Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D.Md.) asked if East Jerusalem is occupied territory, to which Vance replied, “Yes.” Sarbanes asked, “That is the position of our government?” Vance nodded affirmatively. Sorbanes asked, “Do you believe that Jews con live on the West Bank?” Vance replied, “That is to be negotiated between the parties, I hope they will have a chance to do that.” He told Sorbanes that he could not speak for the President on the question of whether he had read the resolution before the vote was token, but declared, “I certainly did” read it.
Stone asked why the U.S. does not present the U.S. position, including the President’s statement, to the Security Council Vance said it could be done. “Then why not do it?” Stone pressed. Vance replied that “The President speaks to the whole world, including the Security Council.”
Sen. Joseph Biden (D.Del.) declared that Begio seriously underestimates the resentment of the American people over new settlements” and “the Begin government is dead wrong in establishing new settlements. ” But, he pointed out, “Israel is in the U.S. security interest” and Israel, “free, strong and unintimidated is a strategic asset of the U.S.” He asked Vance “What is Israel’s role in our security position regarding the Persian Gulf” oil fields?
Vance replied, “We have not changed our policy. Israel has a very important strategic role in the area and it is in our national interest.” He added, “The role Israel has to play is as a force for stability” and that “progress in the West Bonk and Gaza negotiations will help produce greater stability.” However, Vance indicated that Israel must make concessions in the interest of stability in the Middle East.
Vance said later that the U.S. policy is for Israel to be “strong and stable.” Asked by Church if he was expressing the view of the President, the Secretary of State replied, “Yes, indeed. “When asked by Church if the views of others in the State Depart- ment are reflected in that policy, Vance replied, “The policy of this Administration is what I have just said — speaking for myself.” Later he said his subordinates supported his policy.
In opening the Senate hearing, Church pointed out that he is “baffled” by the “two sets of documents” that are “clearly inconsistent.” He said the March I Security Council resolution is inconsistent with the text of the Camp David accords as well as with Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 “which together have represented the very cornerstone of United States policy in the Middle East.”
Vance is scheduled to testify tomorrow before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in response to demands from Reps. Elizabeth Holtzman (D.NY) and Christopher Dodd (D.Conn.) for an explanation of the U.S. vote in the Security Council.