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Baker Rejects Linkage and Says U.S. Would Aid Israel’s Defense

December 6, 1990
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The United States would assist Israel in the event of an Iraqi attack on the Jewish state, regardless of its impact on the Arab coalition against Iraq, Secretary of State James Baker said Wednesday.

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Baker said if such an attack occurred, “there would be an appropriate response by the United States and, in our view, the Arab coalition partners would understand that.”

Sen. Charles Robb (D-Va.) had asked Baker what the United States would do if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein decided to attack Israel with Soviet-made Scud missiles as a way of destroying the anti-Iraq coalition.

An embassy spokesman for one of the Arab coalition partners declined to say if his country would stay in the coalition in the event of such an attack, calling the matter “hypothetical.”

In his testimony, Baker also added a new twist to the notion that there should not be any linkage between an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait and resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The argument is also made by Saddam Hussein that he is somehow the champion of the Palestinian cause,” Baker said. “The point is he did not invade Kuwait to help the Palestinians.”

“You don’t enslave one people to free another, and the consequence of his actions have been extremely detrimental to the cause of the Palestinians,” he said.


Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole (R-Kan.) also rejected Hussein’s attempt to link the Kuwaiti and Palestinian problems at this time. But he told the editorial board of the Kansas City Star that additional movement on the Arab-Israeli peace process “may have to happen” once the Kuwaiti problem is resolved.

Dole’s comment, reported by the paper Wednesday, does not go far beyond one made by President Bush at an Oct. 1 news conference at the United Nations. When asked about such a linkage should Iraq withdraw from Kuwait, Bush told reporters, “Anything is possible.”

But Dole also said that “sooner or later, we’re going to have to have an international peace conference or some way to try to resolve it, to try to protect the right of Israel to live in peace.”

Judy Hellman, associate executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Bureau in Kansas City, responded by saying, “It just doesn’t help for our senator to be taking those positions, even down the line.”

In the Kansas City Star story, Dole also took the opportunity to criticize Israel for its recent killing of Palestinians, an apparent reference to the Oct. 8 riots on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, in which 17 Arabs were killed.

Israelis “don’t want any linkage between their dealings with the Palestinians and what’s happening (in Kuwait). They say it’s different. Well, if you kill somebody, I guess it’s different, but you’re still dead,” he said.

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