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Kuchel Urges Demilitarized Buffer Zones to Prevent New Mideast War

February 26, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Senator Thomas H. Kuchel, of California, Republican whip in the U.S. Senate, proposed tonight that a permanently united Jerusalem be “the capital of Israel” and suggested the establishment of demilitarized buffer zones in the Middle East to protect both Israel and the Arab states from armed aggression. Sen. Kuchel spoke before 1,500 communal and civic leaders at the 60th anniversary dinner of B’nai Zion, national Zionist fraternal organization.

Sen. Kuchel accused the Administration of “trying to conceal our firm commitment to Israel from Arab nations, friendly or otherwise” and maintained that this was “no service to our diplomacy, to Israel or even to our few remaining Arab friends.” A message of greeting was received from President Johnson who hailed B’nai Zion as “a force for peace” and reiterated America’s “commitment to peace in the Middle East.”

Senator Kuchel, who visited Israel in 1966, urged immediate negotiations for a Middle East peace to prevent renewed warfare between Israel and the Arabs, and said the United States had an important stake in the success of such talks. He also urged the Soviet Union to recognize that it “has much to gain from peace in this area.” He said Israel must have defensible frontiers and could not retire to the old armistice lines of 1948. Referring to Jerusalem, he declared that “as a member of the United States Senate, I strongly believe that the continued unity of Jerusalem both as a capital and as a world religious center, must be a cardinal objective of our foreign policy in the Near East.”

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