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House Foreign Affairs Committee Hears Strong Plea for Israel

June 16, 1955
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The House Foreign Affairs Committee was urged today to amend pending Mutual Security legislation to assure lessening of Middle Eastern tension and elimination of future arms shipments until peace is negotiated.

Rep. James Roosevelt, California Democrat, testifying before the committee today, said: “If we cannot discontinue our arms shipments to Iraq then at least before we make any future shipments, I believe that we should find some kind of formula for including Israel in our defense system, perhaps by negotiation of defense treaties with Israel and those Arab states which may want to be aligned with the West.”

Rep. Roosevelt urged that “these treaties should provide that any armed aggression in this area will result in immediate active United States military support to the invaded country.” He pointed out that Israel is the only country in the area which has no defense agreement with anyone and is completely isolated, thus in a crisis it can count on support from no one. “We have insisted that our policy is one of impartiality. But it is not impartiality, “he said, “to give arms to Iraq and to deny them to Israel which requested them as far back as 1952. This is clear discrimination.”

Rep. Roosevelt questioned the Administration’s reduction in economic aid for Israel. “It was $73 million in fiscal year 1953, $53 million in fiscal year 1954, and $40 million in the current fiscal year,” he said. “In the new program, the amount will be even less. It would be most wasteful if a drastic reduction in our aid program should slow down progress and thus prolong the period of Israel’s dependence on outside assistance.”

The California Congressman said that while it is technically true that Iraq has no common frontier with Israel “no one can deny that Iraq maintains a state of war against Israel and that, even though there may not be any fighting between Iraq and Israel at the moment, Iraq continually mobilizes its energies and the energies of its sister Arab states to intensify the boycott and blockade of Israel. She is so bitterly hostile to Israel that she never to this day signed an armistice agreement with her.”

Reviewing American policy, Rep, Roosevelt said: “We might have insisted, as part of the Suez agreement, that Egypt call off its blockade of the Suez Canal-a blockade which affects all shipping to and from Israel, including American tankers.” He stressed the fact that it is the Arabs who refuse to negotiate with Israel or recognize her existence. “So long as that situation continues, I think it is a blunder to send military aid to any one of the Arab states, “he stated. He called the attention of the committee to Iraq’s record in World War II, stating that “Iraq was the one country in the Middle East that went over to the side of the Nazis in 1941.”

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