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Sen. Mcgovern Opposes Open-ended Military Aid to Israel

July 8, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Sen. George McGovern (D.S.Dak.). the first announced candidate for the Presidency in 1973, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview today that America should scrutinize all arms requests from Israel. “We don’t want to give anyone a blank check on the U.S. Treasury,” he said, adding that he did not favor the repeal of the Jackson Amendment to last years Foreign Military Sales Act allowing the President to authorize as much military sales credit to Israel as he deemed necessary. McGovern said that the U.S. should “make a clear commitment” to the survival of Israel but that that did not include supporting Israel in all its negotiating positions. He said there would be no point in negotiating if the U.S. stood entirely behind Israel in all of her demands.

He faulted Secretary of State William P. Rogers for spelling out the American position too explicitly and “raising panic in Israeli circles.” He refused to draw a map he would consider a fair settlement on the grounds that be did not believe in an imposed settlement. He did say, however, that he thought Jerusalem should remain united under Israeli administration if Israel would sign some kind of international agreement guaranteeing people of all faiths access to their holy places. He said that while free access to the Suez Canal and the Straits of Tiran would probably have to be an element in the peace settlement, he did not think that meant continued Israeli occupancy of Sinai or Sharm el-Shelkh. He suggested that the United States and other “interested nations” guard the waterway, perhaps under the auspices of the United Nations but under orders of their own governments as well so as not to repeat the hurried withdrawal of UN forces that precipitated the Six-Day War.

McGovern said he supported a role for the Palestinian refugees in direct negotiations between the Arabs and Israel. He said that the specific grievances of the Palestinians would have to be settled in such talks but he felt “A small number” should be resettled in Israel and the remainder should be resettled in under populated Arab lands like Iraq. McGovern told the JTA that he was “not active” in efforts to persuade the Nixon Administration to answer Israeli arms requests because he was “not aware of any Congressional initiatives.” He said that the military supplies should not be used to “blackmail” Israel into accepting an interim settlement on the Suez Canal, especially in light of the recent Cairo-Moscow pact which he characterized as “an upsetting factor.” On the U.S. ability to pressure Russia to allow its Jewish citizens to emigrate, McGovern recommended adopting “a firm position” in “general over-all talks” with the Soviet Government and using “moral and diplomatic suasion” to get the U.S. position across. He said that while the U.S. Government should make it clear that the U.S. is “deeply disturbed” over Russian treatment of Jews, specific economic measures like not approving trade deals, might not be effective and “invite retaliation.”

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