Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

U.S. Govt. Urged to Back Israel’s Disarmament Offer for Middle East

October 16, 1961
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The United States Government was urged today to take the initiative in pressing the Arab rulers for the acceptance of the proposal made last week at the United Nations General Assembly for Arab-Israel negotiations to create a “pilot disarmament plot” in the Middle East. The proposal was made by Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister.

The call upon the U.S. Government was voiced by Senator Kenneth B. Keating, New York Republican, in a public address. At the same time, Senator Keating also challenged the Arab states to agree to the proposal. “The Arab countries,” he said, “have constantly called on the United States and the Soviet Union to undertake such a pact. The time has come for us to call on them to act responsibly in their own part of the world, instead of merely orating about others.”

Senator Keating, who spoke at a conference of the Zionist Organization of America, warned that the United States could not afford to “wait and let the dust settle” in the Middle East. He pointed out that only the Soviets are benefiting from the continued stalemate. A pilot Middle East arms control pact, he emphasized, would have wide support throughout the world. “There are already UN teams in the area inspecting and guaranteeing the frontiers. To extend their jurisdiction over a wider area for weapons control would be relatively easy,” the Senator pointed out.

“The goal of United States policy,” Senator Keating continued, “should be to promote a settlement of the Middle Eastern imbroglio on terms that will insure Israel’s continued survival and security as a free nation and a Jewish homeland and enable all the countries of the area to work together for human progress. What’s more, I believe that the achievement of a more lasting peace in the Middle East is so important, so essential to the interests of the United States and of the free world that it should have highest priority. Time is not necessarily on our side in the Middle East.

“It is dangerously clear that the only nation which really gains from the present situation in the Middle East is the Soviet Union,” the Senator said. “The Arab nations are suffering from their own policies as well as Israel. They are impoverishing themselves to maintain an arms buildup that is supposed to intimidate Israel. The internal sacrifices necessary to maintain” this armory make economic development far more difficult and provide the communists with a made-to-order issue for stirring up discontent. Moreover, the spectacular arms deals which Nasser arranged with Czechoslovakia in 1955 gave the Russians their biggest propaganda gain to date in the Middle East.

Declaring that this “is admitted in Washington” and that the policy makers there agree that it would be good if the Arabs would agree to sit down with Israel and settle their differences. Senator Keating pointed out that they are, however, afraid that “if they try to intervene in the Arab-Israel dispute, they will only antagonize the Arabs and make settlement more difficult.”

“That, unfortunately, has been the gist of the American policy toward the Middle East for years,” the Senator continued. “In fact, practically from the moment Israel was first established. Perhaps at one point there was some virtue in that position. Perhaps at first there was some wisdom in trying to let tempers cool. But I am sure the American people will never forget the dreadful results in the Far East when the United States decided ‘To wait and let the dust settle.'”

Recommended from JTA