Executive Sessions of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Together with Joint Sessions with the Senate Armed Services Committee
Briefing on the Middle East Situation
(June 7, 1967)
The briefing this afternoon on the situation in the Middle East for all members of the Senate was arranged at the request of the administration. In view of the widespread interest of members of the Senate in developments there, the administration thought it would be helpful for this briefing to take place at this time.
For those members of the Foreign Relations Committee who are present, I want them to know that I am seeking to arrange for the Secretary to meet with us tomorrow or Friday for consultation and an examination in greater depth of our policies in the Middle East. I am sure all members of the Senate appreciate the fact that a briefing of the kind we have arranged for today does not permit the free exchange of ideas and the examination of policy in depth which is essential if the Senate as an institution is to handle its business in such a way as to discharge its constitutional responsibilities in the field of foreign policy.
Mr. Secretary, we are very glad to have you. I hope you will proceed as you wish.
If you are willing and have time to entertain questions after your statement, I shall do my best to recognize members of the Senate in order of their seniority of that body.
Mr. Secretary, the floor is yours.
STATEMENT OF HONORABLE DEAN RUSK, SECRETARY OF STATE
Secretary Rusk. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and distinguished Senators.
I do not come today with a prepared statement, but rather notes on the basis of which I want to bring you up to date on where we are at the moment, and to invite your questions and comments on the situation as it may unfold.
The Security Council of the United Nations has just held its meeting, called for by the Soviet Union today, and it has passed a second resolution on the cease-fire designating 4 o'clock today Eastern Standard Time as the time for cessation of firing and all military activities.
Upon the cease-fire, the situation as we understand it is that Israel has said it would welcome a cease-fire, but for that, with the exception of Jordan, we do not have a clear expression from the other Arab governments as to whether they are willing to accept it.
We do have resistance, publicly expressed by countries like Iraq, who are not in direct touch with Israeli forces. But the situation is somewhat obscure on the Arab side.
That itself is of some interest because the Soviet Union, beginning yesterday, has been pressing for an immediate cease-fire, and has not been able to produce Arab agreement to the cease-fire. Indeed, the general Arab view, expressed in the corridors last evening at the end of that long evening session, was that the unanimous resolution of the Security Council was a sellout to Israel, and that the Soviet Union's support for that resolution was a betrayal of their support for the Arabs.
THE MILITARY SITUATION
As far as the military situation is concerned, for all practical purposes I think we can assume that Israel has established military superiority throughout the Sinai Peninsula, that it has gained complete air supremacy, and that it is on the verge of having full military control of the West Bank of the Jordan river as far as that portion of Jordan is concerned.
We have heard reports during the day that Eastern European countries are rushing equipment to Egypt. We do not see mass movements of equipment. We doubt very much that such equipment will make much difference in the present military situation.
The report of flights of aircraft from Algeria to Egypt are not likely to change the military situation substantially. So, in terms of assessing the situation, I think it is a reasonable assumption as a factual matter that the Israeli forces have succeeded up to practically the canal itself, have seized Sharm el-Sheikh at the Straits of Tiran, and are in command of the West Bank.
I would like to comment briefly on the costs to us thus far in terms of our situation in the Near East.
We have now had breaches of relations from nine countries. Those are Egypt, Algeria, Syria, the Yemen, the Sudan, Iraq, Mauritania, Lebanon and, I believe, Burundi down in Central Africa.
I think we need not at the moment try to speculate as to how far this diplomatic action goes and how long it is likely to last because the situation in the different capitals seems to be somewhat obscure.
LIMITING THE BREACH
On the assumption that this is a very private meeting, Mr. Chairman, and what I am saying here will not be quoted outside, a number of these governments which are breaking relations have discussed ways and means of limiting the breach.
For example, Egypt has talked about our leaving behind a number of diplomatic and administrative officers to carry on functions under the technical supervision of a protecting power.
The Sudan has talked about finding arrangements to continue economic, cultural and business relationships, and we think that there are other ways in which they can translate this into what has now come to be called a soft break rather than a hard break in diplomatic relations, somewhat the way they did in Germany over the recognition in Israel, somewhat in terms of the break, breach, where Great Britain holds Rhodesia.
Nevertheless it is true that we are suffering at the present time significantly as far as Arab public opinion is concerned.
This is related to the general view that Israel committed aggression in this situation, and that the United States is in sympathetic support of Israel. More specifically, it has been radically inflamed by the direct charges which have been widely circulated throughout the Arab world that U.S. aircraft participated in the attacks on Egypt, and from Damascus that U.S. infantry forces are involved in the operations.
We do not know anyone who believes it except--that is as far as governments are concerned. We know the Soviets know better. They have their own vessels alongside practically our own carriers, and they know perfectly well that our aircraft have not taken part in these operations.
The Libyans know we have not used Wheelus Airfield for any such purposes. But as Arabs have explained it to me in the last 24 hours, President Nasser has felt that it was necessary for him to make a case that he was defeated not by Israel but by a combination of Israel and two great powers, the U.S. and the U.K.
But the cost to us in Arab public opinion in the short run is, of course, substantial.
THE OIL PROBLEM
As far as oil is concerned, the situation at the present time is fluid. Some of the production has been stopped as a means of protecting the actual production facilities themselves.
For example, at Bahrain, the facilities are closed for protective purposes.
ESSO Libya has stopped production in exports.
Saudi Arabia has joined those who stopped exporting to the U.S. and the U.K.
Oil sanctions applied just to the U.S. and U.K. are not likely to have very far-reaching effects because if they continue to send oil into Western Europe generally we and the U.K. can get along reasonably well with other arrangements and shifting sources.
But, nevertheless, the oil problem remains touchy, and we have a full-time team working on that with the oil industry, both our own and international oil industries, in order to keep the situation under review and take the protective steps that may be necessary.
The closing of the Suez Canal, of course, affects the shipment of oil into Europe, adds about 16 days to the passage of oil tankers. But the fact that in recent years tankers have gotten to be very large has reduced the impact of that problem upon supplying Western Europe.
A STUNNING SETBACK TO NASSER
The costs to others also are high. Nasser has had a stunning setback. We already see signs of considerable disillusionment in the Arab world about the predicament into which Nasser has led them.
Quite apart from the question of who might have started this affair, the Arabs, including many in Cairo, now apparently are saying, ``Well, in any event, he should have own better in terms of the military situation or should have known more about the attitude of the Soviet Union or more about the dangers which might have been created by action taken over against Israel.''
We have nothing to confirm the newspaper report out of London this morning that the general of the forces in Sinai has taken over command of the armed forces, and that Nasser is expected to be finished.
We just have nothing pointing in that direction at all, and it is the kind of newspaper story that could be written out of an armchair in London without any special information to go on.
The Soviet Union has, I think, in the longer run suffered a considerable setback here. There has been a considerable Arab reaction against the, what they consider to be, support, encouragement and pledges from the Soviet Union which, in the showdown, did not prove to be effective.
I might say to you very privately that we do not see indications thus far from our Watch Committee that the Soviet Union is engaging in any military moves that might indicate a military intervention in the situation. Of course, we would be extremely interested in that if any such indications came along.
But, in looking at the situation, we are puzzled as to whether the Soviet Union had quite a different military estimate of the situation than we and other governments in the West have had for some time about the relative capacity of the armed forces as between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
Indeed, I think the speed with which the Israeli forces prevailed surprised their own estimators, as well as our own. But we are puzzled about whether the Soviets really thought that in this kind of a clash the Arab forces would be able to prevail.
You would suppose that they felt that they knew a good deal about the Arab forces since they had equipped many of them with a lot of their equipment, and had trained a lot of them to fly in airplanes and run their tanks.
But if this did arise out of a miscalculation, then I suppose that somebody in Moscow is in some difficulty at the present time.
PRIVATE EXCHANGES WITH SOVIET UNION
We also are somewhat puzzled by the fact that the tenor of the private exchanges which we have had from the Soviet Union over the past 10 days or so are quite different from the public attitude of the Soviet Union as reflected in their broadcasts and their statements even in the United Nations.
Their private exchanges have shown a much better, a much greater, degree of moderation in terms of an interest in restraining the two sides, in terms of bringing the fighting to a conclusion when it started than one would read from their public broadcasts.
So we cannot ourselves yet make a very good judgment about just what the Soviet Union considers its gain to be.
We do know they are giving advice to the Arabs at the present time which the Arabs are not yet prepared to accept in terms of how to bring the situation to a close.
ISRAEL'S STUNNING SUCCESS
As, far as Israel is concerned, if Nasser has had a stunning setback, the Israelis have had a stunning military success.
We, I think, can expect Israel to take a very strong position on a very simple notion put forward by Foreign Minister Eban when he said that Israel will not withdraw to a state of belligerence, but will withdraw to a state of peace.
I think we can expect Israel to insist very hard that just the restoration of some temporary arrangements, supervised by the U.N., is not good enough.
I think we can expect them to take the position that they, too, are one of the 122 members of the United Nations; that they are a sovereign state; that their existence will have to be acknowledged; and they will have the prerequisites of any other sovereign state. I think we will find that they may be very resistant to any kind of U.N. supervisory machinery, as indicating some discrimination against Israel among the 122 members of the U.N.
I think we can be very sure the Israelis will insist upon a permanent solution to the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba situation.
I think they very well might insist upon an opening of the Suez Canal, in other words, the attributes of everybody in this situation.
Of course, what Israel has in mind is going to be extremely difficult for the Arab side to take, at least under the present governments of the Arab countries.
Now, whether there will be changes among some of these governments we cannot at the present time know for certain. But you all know the deep feelings on both sides in the situation, and the problems which the Arab governments have had in making sense in certain occasions, given the attitude of the mobs in the street and the ease with which high passions can be whipped up in connection with the relationships with Israel.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR PROBLEM SOLVING
Now, we hope very much that out of this crisis, which we tried to prevent, that there can come an opportunity for some much more far-reaching solutions to some of these problems than have thus been achieved.
It may well be that this is a time to make some real headway on the Arab refugee problem. It certainly is the time when this question of standing people apart with rights of belligerence will have to be dealt with.
The claim of the Egyptians that they could close Straits of Tiran because they were in a state of war with Israel and can exercise rights of belligerence is the sort of claim that just cannot endure in the future if there is to be peace in that area.
We would hope that out of this could come a more solid, regional approach to economic and social development in the area, and under such cooperative ventures, such as transportation and water developments, things such as that.
We would hope at long last the Soviet Union might be willing to talk some sense about getting the arms suppliers together in getting some limitations on the race in conventional weapons.
As I have told some of you before, we have had occasional contacts with the Soviets on that subject. They have been willing to cooperate with respect to nuclear weapons, but have never been willing to talk seriously about finding some limitations on a level of conventional arms. It may be that rather than spend an additional billion dollars to try to restore what has been lost in the fighting in the last three days, in reequipping, say, Egypt, that they might be willing to let the Geneva Conference, for example, get together a group to talk seriously about some sort of arms limitations in the area as a whole.
WITHDRAWAL OF ISRAELI FORCES
The most immediate next question for the Security Council, if the Arabs do come in and accept the cease-fire, will be to work on the problems of withdrawal, and that will immediately involve us in the nature of a permanent settlement.
I would not want to predict that it is going to be easy to get a quick withdrawal of Israeli forces unless they see more clearly than they do now the picture of the eventual settlement which will come out of this present situation.
We can expect considerable instability and fluidity in the area. I would hesitate to try to predict today how many of the Arab governments can survive this situation.
I do want you to know that behind the scenes there is a good deal more moderation in the Arab world and among Arab governments than would appear on some of the broadcasts, and that very much behind the scenes there is a considerable satisfaction that President Nasser, who has caused so much trouble among the Arabs themselves, has had a very significant setback in this situation.
Mr. Chairman, that is a very brief summary of where we are at the moment. I will be glad to take questions and try to elaborate any particular points that might come up.
Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
If it is agreeable, I would like to call on members in order of seniority.
Senator Hayden, do you have any questions?
Senator Hayden. No.
Mr. Chairman. Senator Russell?
Senator Russell. Yes, I have one or two.
IMPACT OF OIL SANCTIONS
Mr. Secretary, I happen to have been in France in 1956 when they closed the canal, and it was very disagreeable with the French. Even the hotels broke down in cooking and heating.
Do the French have adequate oil from Algeria and other places without coming through the canal now?
Secretary Rusk. Well, the French are at the present time not being specifically subject to oil sanctions by the Arab countries.
Senator Russell. I know. But how about the canal, is it closed?
Secretary Rusk. Well, the canal is closed. They have important oil resources in both Algeria and in Libya.
Senator Russell. And they are adequate?
Secretary Rusk. So we think as far as France is concerned they will be in reasonably good shape.
There will have to be some readjustment involving ourselves and the United Kingdom.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, we have been getting certain of our Far Eastern oil out of there, out of some of those countries. But we think that adjustments can be made without causing us any trouble.
U.S. AID TO THOSE WHO BREAK RELATIONS
Senator Russell. You are talking about this soft breaking of relations. If they break relations and withdraw their ambassadors and, I assume, make ours come home, and yet they still want to stay on the dole and the aid program and all that, it would seem to me to be a rather gentle way to run a breach of relations.
Secretary Rusk. No. I would think, Senator, in the case of those who break relations with us that the U.S. Government aid programs would not go forward under the rug. But I do bring to your attention the fact that we do participate, for example, in the FAO's world food program, and I think there might be some very serious difficulties if we were to drop out of the FAO's world food program, which is somewhat limited in scope, because a particular country has broken relations with us.
There is a more--there is a second problem we will have to think about, and I do not want to--we do not have a final decision on this, and that is in those countries where there is a breach of relations but where American private citizens are welcome to remain, and where some of our voluntary agencies such as Church World Services or missionary groups, and things of that sort, remain behind, whether they should be permitted to go ahead with their own relief work based on Title III of P.L. 480. That is a rather complicated problem in relation to our longer range interests in those countries.
Senator Russell. We stopped it in Egypt without any difficulty.
Secretary Rusk. Yes. I am not now suggesting an answer. I am just saying----
Senator Russell. Frankly, I do not think if a nation severs relations with us that we ought to go out of our way to ship them anything.
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
Senator Russell. I do not think that should be just considered a kind of subject that does not really mean anything, because that is one of the things that gets the world into too many troubles, because we gloss over these things.
Secretary Rusk. I want you gentlemen to know that this is a problem we will have very shortly, and that is what we do about our church charitable groups which have been operating privately in these countries and have used relatively limited amounts of food in connection with our work in these countries.
I do not disagree with the feelings you express, Senator, but I am just saying it is somewhat complicated.
U.S. PRESSURE ON ISRAEL FOR A CEASE-FIRE
Senator Russell. Apparently we have put a good deal of pressure on Israel with respect to the cease-fire. Why do we do that when they were gaining a great victory over people like Nasser, to whom we say we do not owe any obligations at all? Did the Israelis ask us to intercede?
Secretary Rusk. I think the Israelis were very pleased with the resolutions passed by the Security Council, and you will notice also that the Arabs called the resolution of the Security Council a sellout to Israel.
Senator Russell. Yes, I am aware of that. But I cannot believe that Russia would have gone so far if they had not had some intimation from Nasser that he was about to call it quits.
Secretary Rusk. What we were not able to agree upon in the Security Council was the idea that the Security Council would order a withdrawal on the basis of a status quo of June 5 that would have been----
Senator Russell. The Israelis have not indicated any willingness to do that. If they do, they ought to have their heads examined.
Secretary Rusk. Nor do we because we have, as a maritime nation, an interest in the straits of Tiran, and some of the other countries----
Senator Russell. And so with the Suez Canal.
Secretary Rusk. The withdrawal of the forces is necessarily going to get caught up in the nature of the settlement. It is going to take some time, and I hope----
Senator Russell. If the Israelis gained a more complete victory, it would be more simple, would it not?
Secretary Rusk. Well, they have a complete victory now unless they crossed the canal. I do not know whether they want to try that or not.
Senator Russell. They may not want to over-extend themselves.
PROTECT ISRAEL'S INDEPENDENCE
The Chairman. I may overlook somebody, but according to my estimates, next is Senator Magnuson.
Senator Magnuson. I wanted to ask the Secretary this. Naturally a lot of us have been contacted by many people interested in this whole matter since this happened, particularly the Jewish people in America, who have done so much to help Israel become what it is, which you and I know so well, and I would hope that we would not be a party to any kind of withdrawal, number one, to the status quo.
Number two, I would hope we would not become a party to withdrawal and leave something hanging, but we ought to now make as much permanence as we can for the independence of Israel for a long, long time, and get all maritime nations in concert on this old, real serious problem, leaving out the political, ideological problem of freedom of the seas.
Secretary Rusk. Yes. I think that----
Senator Magnuson. I hope--I was going to ask you--are we pretty much not formally, but are we pretty much committed to that generally?
Secretary Rusk. Well, I think we ourselves have got an interest, as we have explained in earlier briefings down here, in this problem of the Straits of Tiran, and I myself have no doubt that that question is going to get settled in connection with the present situation.
Senator Magnuson. Yes. I think the Israeli people have got to know there is some kind of permanency of Israel.
Secretary Rusk. But I think, sir----
Senator Magnuson. In other words, I would go right on to Cairo if I were the Israelis.
ROLE OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT
Secretary Rusk. There would be some advantage in letting the President of the Security Council, a Dane, Mr. Tabor, and the Secretary General, have the first whack at negotiations between the two sides on the basis of a final settlement.
There are some reasons why it is better for us not to ourselves take on that job as a volunteer.
Senator Magnuson. I understand that.
Secretary Rusk. Although we have vital interests in many of the questions concerned, and we would be following it very closely with the Security Council. But we are not a very good party now to talk to the Arabs.
Senator Magnuson. No.
Secretary Rusk. And Mr. Tabor, President of the Security Council, probably is in a better position to do so.
Senator Magnuson. Yes.
Senator Russell. How long will he be there?
Secretary Rusk. I beg pardon?
Senator Russell. How long will Tabor be there?
Secretary Rusk. Throughout the month of June.
Senator Russell. That is what I thought. Who succeeds him?
Secretary Rusk. Then Ethiopia, and I think in the case of Ethiopia they have interests very close to ours. They have relations with both Israel and the Arabs, and again, very privately, the Ethiopians have let it be known to us if this Straits of Tiran issue was not settled, Ethiopia was finished as a Red Sea owner, and they have a vital stake in this question of freedom of navigation in there.
Senator Magnuson. I just want to say it seems to me a meeting point for a great number of people in the world would be this maritime problem, the freedom of the seas.
Secretary Rusk. Yes. I think there is no question about that.
Senator Magnuson. Bring them in.
The Chairman. Senator Hickenlooper?
RUSSIAN ULTIMATUM TO ISRAEL
Senator Hickenlooper. Mr. Secretary, reports have come over the air since the 4:00 o'clock meeting this afternoon indicating that Russia has sent some kind of a notice in the nature of an ultimatum that if Israel or if the Israelis do not stop shooting, Russia will withdraw recognition, with no mention of the fact that the Egyptians should stop shooting, too.
Now, can you verify that or give us any details on that?
Secretary Rusk. I saw a press ticker, Senator, that the Russians said to Israel if they did not cease fire immediately that Russia would break relations.
Well, in this day and age that is not a very severe sanction, and I do not believe that Israel is going to be too upset about that particular kind of threat.
We have not seen thus far signs of any action that the Soviet Union might take on the ground in this situation, with the possible exception of sending in some additional supplies, military supplies, if they can find anybody to give them to when they get there.
I should think that sending in more military supplies in this situation would be a rather unattractive project right now.
Senator Hickenlooper. That is interesting.
A SPECIAL OBLIGATION TO ISRAEL
Well, I do not know, I would not dispute your view on this, but I think we have a great opportunity to do something with the Arab world now, and I do not agree that we have a special obligation to serve Israel. But I think we have a special obligation to serve the integrity of Israel, along with every other country over there. I would not single Israel out against any other country, if we can save the peace of the world there.
Secretary Rusk. Well, Senator, in that connection, if you look back over the last decade, the U.S. in a variety of ways has taken action on behalf of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco in pursuance of this notion that we are committed to the independence and the territorial integrity of all the states in this area.
Senator Hickenlooper. Yes, I think that is our proposition, and I think we make a tragic mistake if we choose up sides for any one country unless our own vital interests later indicate that we have to do it of necessity. I do not think we have come to that point yet.
Secretary Rusk. We are inclined--and I think I ought to mention this because if there are those who have a strongly different view it would be helpful to know it--we are inclined in this matter of the breach of relations to let these other countries determine the extent of the breach in the sense that if they want to maintain consular, cultural relations, we will do it. Let us exclude aid from that, because breaking diplomatic relations and maintaining aid programs--but consular relations or cultural relations or those who say in the case of Egypt ``We want your officials and people running the oil companies to stay,'' we are inclined to do so on that basis.
But we are inclined to let them set the level of the breach and proceed on that basis in order to make it easier to restore the situation exactly.
Senator Russell. As long as there is any quid pro quo, that is all right. But if it is one-sided----
Secretary Rusk. No, they would have the same type of relationship that we would have there.
CHANGE OF TERRITORIAL SOVEREIGNTY
Senator Hickenlooper. Just one question in the nature of an observation. I think it is entirely possible in the settlement of this situation that there may have to be certain territorial rearrangements, at least so far as claims are concerned, involving the freedom of the seas in the Gulf of Aqaba, and the freedom of the use of the canal, and things of that kind, which might be considered to be territorial alterations.
But I, what I meant was a massive or substantial change of territorial sovereignty.
Secretary Rusk. At the beginning of this recent fighting, Prime Minister Eshkol and General Dayan both said Israel did not have territorial ambitions.
My guess is that they are going to want to have some pretty hard guarantees on the Straits of Tiran, and that this is not necessarily their last word on this particular point.
But if they were to go for larger territorial changes in that area, the problem would be there that they probably would be sowing the seeds for another conflagration at that point.
Senator Hickenlooper. Thank you very much.
The Chairman. Senator Young?
ISRAELI CONTROL OF WATERWAYS
Senator Young of North Dakota. Is Israel in about a position to take over the Tiran Straits or to control the Suez Canal? I would think after having gone this far it would be possible for them to do so, and in their own interest they would go to take control of the Tiran Straits, and then they could dictate----
Secretary Rusk. Well, they have occupied Sharm El Sheikh, which is the position opposite the Straits of Tiran on the southeastern corner of the Sinai Peninsula. So as far as the Gulf of Aqaba is concerned, they control it at the present time.
Senator Young of North Dakota. And they are pretty secure and would be hard to dislodge?
Secretary Rusk. Oh, yes. I think they are very secure from a military point of view.
Senator Young of North Dakota. I mean, the Arabs do not have any sizable force?
Secretary Rusk. No. The truth seems to be, gentlemen, that the Arab Air Forces have been, for all practical purposes, destroyed, and that for the last twenty-four hours, the Israel Air Force has been able to operate not against Arab air, but against Arab ground forces, tanks and things of that sort.
Senator Young of North Dakota. How near are they to controlling the Suez Canal?
Secretary Rusk. Well, they are on the east bank of the canal. They probably could deny the use of the canal. But in terms of seizing it and operating it, that is quite another matter.
SEEKING A CEASE-FIRE
Senator Young of North Dakota. How would you get a nation like Israel to stop now, to get them to have a cease-fire when there is such bitter hatred?
Secretary Rusk. They are prepared to cease fire if the Arabs will. But the question of cleaning up afterwards in terms of a final settlement is another question.
Senator Young of North Dakota. They could agree to it. Whether they would do it or not----
Secretary Rusk. No. We are a long ways away from a final settlement of this yet, Senator.
The Chairman. Senator Sparkman?
Senator Sparkman. I do not believe I will ask any questions.
The Chairman. Senator Williams of Delaware?
Senator Williams. I will skip.
The Chairman. Senator Stennis?
Senator Stennis. Mr. Secretary, you said that Israel was ready to cease fire. But to what extent are they continuing to advance militarily, territorially?
Secretary Rusk. Well, Senator, they are continuing right straight along in the absence of a cease-fire with the Arabs.
Senator Stennis. I see.
Secretary Rusk. Now again, I can tell you that we have for 48 hours had some part in contacts between Israel and Jordan with respect to a cease-fire, because both sides apparently would like to have one. But it has broken down because local commanders, probably local Jordanian commanders, have not, in fact, stopped shooting, and the question was whether the Jordanian command had control of all of its own forces.
But while the other side is still shooting the Israelis are going ahead. Now they are prepared to cease fire if the Arabs will.
ISRAEL'S MILITARY OBJECTIVES
Senator Stennis. Do you expect them to physically take the Canal, all of it? You say they have a negative on it now. But do you expect them to----
Secretary Rusk. I do not have any information on what the Israeli military objectives are. They have been pretty close-mouthed on this situation. The situation is quite different than in Vietnam where everybody is able to report anything they want to report out of there, and put it all on television. Both sides in this situation put a censorship on it immediately, and both sides have been rather close-mouthed in talking to other governments about their military plans and purposes.
MILITARY SUPPLIES FROM EASTERN EUROPE
Senator Stennis. Quite briefly, what was that you said about the equipment coming out of Eastern Europe, the military equipment or supplies? You said that that was vague and uncertain.
Secretary Rusk. Well, we have heard some reports that additional military supplies were being sent from Eastern Europe to Egypt. But whether they, in fact, unload or will arrive, I should think is qualified somewhat by the very fast-moving situation on the ground.
Senator Stennis. Thank you very much.
The Chairman. Senator Mundt.
COMPELLING A CEASE-FIRE
Senator Mundt. I think you said, Mr. Secretary, that the cease-fire is to begin at 4 o'clock today.
Secretary Rusk. Yes. But that turns upon the willingness of both sides to take it.
Senator Mundt. Right.
Secretary Rusk. And they do not have anything very hard from the Arab side on this point, with the exception of Jordan.
Senator Mundt. My question is, assuming the possibility of no cease-fire today or tomorrow at 4 o'clock, have we any other suggestions to propose to the Security Council such as, perhaps, economic sanctions against Egypt to compel them to cease fire and, if so, would the Russians join us?
Secretary Rusk. Well, Senator, quite frankly we have not gotten to that point yet. We think the President of the Security Council and the Secretary General ought to be in touch with both sides to try to work out a cease-fire.
We think if they did that they would have the cooperation of the Russians in the present situation, but query whether some of the Arab governments could feel they could accept a cease-fire and survive.
I am not sure what the situation is in Cairo at the present time, for example. I just do not know.
Senator Mundt. Thank you.
The Chairman. Senator Smith?
Senator Smith. No questions. Thank you.
The Chairman. Senator Carlson?
Senator Carlson. No questions, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Rusk. Mr. Chairman, in relation to the remark you made about the Foreign Relations Committee, I will be very happy to come tomorrow at a time, a mutually convenient time, so we will try to get a further briefing tomorrow.
The Chairman. Fine.
REESTABLISHING RELATIONS WITH ARAB NATIONS
Senator Monroney. Mr. Secretary, what gain would we have to make any hastening or rushing the re-recognition of the Arab countries that broke off relations to justify apparently their story that our planes were attacking them?
Secretary Rusk. It is not a question of our rushing, but the question is simply not pressing the gap any further than they themselves insist upon pressing it at this time.
We do have important interests in these countries. We would like to have a presence, if one is feasible, and representation there.
My own guess, Senator, is that there is going to be a considerable revulsion against the Soviet Union in the Arab world here during the next several months, and if we have a presence there it would come in rather handy for us to be there.
Senator Monroney. Thank you.
The Chairman. Senator Pastore?
ISRAEL AND THE SUEZ CANAL
Senator Pastore. I am a little concerned with the possibilities of our involvement in that part of the world. You have already said that there may be a cease-fire.
I would assume if that did happen the Israelis would stay pretty much in Egyptian territory that they now occupy, is that correct?
Secretary Rusk. Until there is the shape of a final settlement which is known.
Senator Pastore. Then you went on to say that you would suppose that the Israeli government would want to assert itself as a sovereign state like all the other nations of the world, and that they would want free and innocent passage in the Straits of Tiran and, at the same time, would want the same concession made with regard to the Suez Canal.
Now, my question is this: Let us assume, as you have said, that the present rulers of the Arabic world will not agree to this for political reasons. What is the possibility of Russia beginning to assert itself, and then what would be our position in that respect, and what are our commitments with regard to that?
I would assume, before you begin answering, I would assume that Israel would be a darned fool at this time if it did not assert its rights to go through the Suez Canal like other nations of the world. They are there now.
Secretary Rusk. That was a part of the armistice arrangements which they were never able to collect on.
Senator Pastore. That is right. And now they are there.
Secretary Rusk. They are the Canal, that is right.
Senator Pastore. They are the Canal, and I would assume that they would insist upon that.
Now, let us assume they do insist, and the Arabic world won't agree. What is the possibility of any further assertion on the part of Russia and what does that mean to us?
Secretary Rusk. There is that possibility, Senator, that the Russians may take much more action practically than they have thus far. We do not see signs of it, and we do not believe they intended to back the present play by force in this situation.
I think the principal problem there would be between the mediators for Israel and the Arabs to try to find an answer that both Israel and the Arabs would be willing to accept. It is going to be tough because at the present time it is hard to see exactly where this point is going to be reached and when.
But I think you would expect Israel to be pretty forthright in demanding its full rights as a power to access to these passages.
Senator Pastore. In your secret diplomacy, has Russia indicated any inclination as to the right of Israel to go through the Suez Canal?
Secretary Rusk. We have not, quite frankly, talked about the Suez Canal. We do believe----
Senator Pastore. I mean in the past.
Secretary Rusk. I think they would recognize an international right in the Straits of Tiran. But, for heaven's sake, gentlemen, please no one say anything about this kind of question because it would be just murder. But I do not think the Straits of Tiran are going to be a problem when this thing is wound up.
Senator Pastore. I would not suppose that, but I am worried a little bit about the Suez Canal.
THE AMERICAN COMMITMENT TO ISRAEL
Now, another question: Have you been approached at all by the Jewish-American community?
Secretary Rusk. I have not myself, but I gather there are a good many letters. But no one has asked to see me.
Senator Pastore. Well, groups are coming to see us, and they are insisting that America live up to its commitment. If you were in our position what would be your answer to that?
Secretary Rusk. Well, I think we have to talk about which commitments and what it is we are talking about.
I do think--quite frankly, if you go back over this record since 1947, there is a whole basketful of understandings and U.N. resolutions. You find, generally speaking, that each side has tended to pick and choose out of those resolutions those things which they wanted at one time or another, and that there are a good many things on both sides which have been rejected out of these U.N. resolutions.
Now, at the time of the original resolution creating the State of Israel or on the settlement of Palestine, the Arabs bitterly rejected that resolution and fought against it, in fact.
Their present position is there is nothing they want more than that original U.N. resolution. There was a resolution from which the Arabs got certain benefits, which gave the Israelis passage through the Suez Canal, but they have never gotten passage through the Suez Canal.
President Eisenhower made a specific commitment in the General Assembly at the time of the 1957 settlement about the Straits of Tiran being international waters. That was done at a time when he was acting on behalf of Egypt to get Israeli troops out of the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt did not formally accept that at the time as a matter of legal doctrine, but they got the benefits of the arrangements; namely, the withdrawal of Israeli troops.
So the past here is a jungle of resolutions which have in them many elements which each side along the way has refused to comply with.
NO OPEN-ENDED COMMITMENTS
Senator Pastore. Well, they are having a big rally here at Lafayette Square, and I am wondering what it is all about, and what we, as elected officials, say to these constituents of ours on the enforcement of these commitments.
Secretary Rusk. Well, again, I think one ought to be precise about the commitments. The President's statement of May 23 is a pretty comprehensive statement of our commitments in this situation. There he reaffirmed the general commitment to the political independence and territorial integrity of all the states in the area, and the specific commitment on the Straits of Tiran.
But we do not have vague, unorganized, open-ended commitments to either side in this situation. We do not have a treaty commitment, for example, that spells these things out.
Now, we have a major involvement stemming from the role we played in the creation of Israel, and our support for various types of United Nations action and settlement, and some specific commitments on the Gulf of Aqaba.
But I think we need to be fairly precise, at least people in my position, in talking about what commitment it is we are talking about.
Mr. Chairman. Senator Bennett?
RESTORATION OF RELATIONS
Senator Bennett. I have just one question. Now that these Arab countries have taken the lead in breaking diplomatic relations, are we going to wait for them to take the lead in restoring them?
Secretary Rusk. Well, it would be normal for the country that took the original initiative to take the initiative to restore them. But I think our general attitude ought to be that we are relaxed about having relationships with those countries that want relationships and are prepared to guarantee rights of legation, because we have relations with a good many countries with whom we are not in agreement on every point. I would think we would be relatively relaxed about that in the future, and some of this restoration of relations, I think, might come in a matter of weeks rather than in a matter of months.
Some of the local officials in certain of these countries have said to our people, ``Well, we will see you in about 2 or 3 weeks' time,'' that kind of thing. So we do not know exactly what this means yet.
Senator Bennett. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman. Senator Gore?
Senator Gore. I will defer until tomorrow.
The Chairman. Senator Symington?
COMPARISON TO VIETNAM
Senator Symington. Mr. Secretary, I have a few questions.
When I came back from Vietnam in early January this year, I reported that scores of our pilots were pleading that they be allowed to do what apparently Defense Minister Dayan instructed General Weitzman and his pilots to do.
One pilot said that four out of the last five missions he had flown over the airport at Fukien were to hit much less important targets closer to Hanoi and, therefore, I carried their plea, and I find out that last week the military airfield at Fukien has never been put on the target list, let alone struck.
In the last 12 hours, in 12 hours, I think it is fair to say, that against much heavier opposition, although under different circumstances, General Dayan has really accomplished more against three or four countries, and in one sense more than that, than we have in two years in Vietnam, and I see it.
My question would be, as a result of staving off this, to me and a number of my growing number of my colleagues, denigration of airpower, and this almost unbelievable success that they have had through the right use of airpower, the saving of lives and treasure. Do you think this is going to have any effect on the way we are handling the situation in Vietnam or do you think we will continue to make it a major land war without the use of our naval air, our seapower, I mean of Air Force air and our seapower? We are just going to go ahead to the tune of $2 billion a month or whatever it is, a very heavy cost, or will this perhaps almost unprecedented military success in modern times affect the way we are handling the Vietnamese War?
Secretary Rusk. Well, Senator, if we were fighting primarily tanks and aircraft in open desert, the pattern of war would, of course, be different.
It is not quite the same problem in Vietnam. I can talk about that further. I think you know some of the problems we feel we are involved with there. But I think the situation is quite different from a military point of view, and I would doubt that any of these airfields in Egypt are as heavily defended as this particular airfield is up in Hanoi.
Senator Symington. Well, airpower is airpower regardless of the nature of the terrain underneath it, and it seems to me unfortunate that if we are going to use it at all, we do not use it properly.
I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman. Senator Ervin has gone.
Senator Kuchel, you just came in?
Senator Kuchel. No, I have been here, but that is all right.
USE OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
Mr. Secretary, I watched the Security Council last night, and I think everyone is most proud of the fact, even at the last minute, the Security Council passed a resolution.
Apparently it passed another one today, and I assume, therefore, that our policy has been to use the machinery of the United Nations to a maximum extent possible.
Now, if there is going to be a cease-fire, which I assume there will be, if not this afternoon, tomorrow afternoon or the next, there is no victor and no vanquished, so the problem of territory, of free access to any waters of egress and ingress along any land is going to have to be the result of an agreement between the Arabs and the Israelis which, I guess, is not going to take place or there are going to have to be additional decisions made in the Security Council.
Will it be our policy to bring to the Security Council such resolutions as clothing the President or U Thant with the responsibility of asking, of making decisions to bring about a peace rather than a truce?
Secretary Rusk. I do not believe that the matter of decisions on these matters will be turned over to the Secretary General, and I doubt very much that a resolution could pass the Security Council that has not already been agreed to by the two sides.
The situation in the Security Council is such that unless you got agreement on the two sides, there is not a majority vote. That sounds contradictory to what has happened in the Security Council last night when the Security Council was unanimous on a ceasefire, even though the Arabs were not prepared to step up and say, ``We accept it.''
But in the terms of the long-range settlement, I do not believe that the Security Council can legislate and impose upon the parties a settlement which has not been worked out by negotiation.
Senator Kuchel. So what would our policy be with respect to negotiating a peace? Would our policy be to participate in the negotiation unilaterally, in concert with other nations? I mean, if you could help us on that point, I think it would be most valuable.
Secretary Rusk. Well, we would very much hope that the Security Council would be the principal forum in which these things are dealt with.
Now, quite obviously there are going to be a lot of consultations in capitals behind the scenes, as there was all day yesterday and the day before.
But we think there would be great advantage in keeping this matter in the framework of the Security Council just as much as possible.
In our earlier consultations down here it was my strong impression that that was almost the unanimous view of the people at this end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
U.S. WAS NOT MILITARILY INVOLVED
Senator Kuchel. One more question. Are we going to pursue what Arthur Goldberg raised last night, and nail the Arabs to the cross on that falsehood of our military participation?
Secretary Rusk. Well, we have been trying to do that with all the means at our command.
The Arabs, however, continue to circulate this story 8, 10 hours a day.
As you know, we invited U.N. observers aboard our carriers, and urged them to investigate the whole thing and look at our logs and talk to pilots.
The Syrians added an item to that today and they charged U.S. infantry were involved in these operations.
Senator Russell. I thought you said the Jordanians.
Secretary Rusk. No, sir. It was Damascus, Syrian radio. Damascus had charged us with having infantry.
Senator Kuchel. Will we follow through, however, and request the President of the Security Council to appoint an impartial board?
Secretary Rusk. Well, we would like to see them do it, but the trouble is that nobody believes these stories and, therefore, they think it is undignified to accept our invitation.
You see, it is almost humiliating for the Security Council to send observers in the face of such outrageous lies.
Senator Russell. I thought you did a good job, Mr. Secretary, on television.
The Chairman. Senator Morse?
Senator Morse. I have a couple of questions.
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
SUPPLIES TO ISRAEL AND THE ARAB STATES
Senator Morse. The first one relates to the reference you made twice in response to a question about some information that supplies were being sent into the Arab countries.
Let us assume that they are not, but there is a probability they will be, say, from Russia or from Eastern European countries and others. What is our position with regard to supplies to Israel? We already have some outstanding commitments in regard to the sale of airplanes, and we are not talking here about commitments, but there is no question about what the understanding of Israel has been for quite some years that they can rely on the United States to come to their assistance in protection if they tried to drive her into the sea. There is no question, but this was a movement to do that.
Are we going to stand by while Arab countries get their supplies replenished from Russia and other countries, and not proceed to provide Israel with supplies? Because if we do not supply her, she is not allowed to get supplies; she cannot hold out against a replenished supply if you are going to give the opposition breathing time, and I happen to disagree with some of what I think are the connotations brought in this conversation this afternoon in regard to our obligations.
I think we have very definite obligations, and we have assumed them, and restated them over and over again, including not only moral obligations but statements of our public officials to Israel that we are not going to stand by and have her driven into the sea.
My question is what are we going to do if the Arab countries are resupplied? Are we going to wait for further negotiations and further talk, or are we going to deliver some supplies?
Secretary Rusk. Well, we have not interrupted our own shipments to Israel.
As far as Soviet shipments to the Arab countries are concerned, we have not ourselves taken action to interrupt them.
Now, my guess is that if there is not a cease-fire, that any aircraft, for example, coming into any Arab countries will be subject to Israel air attack.
The situation after a cease-fire is, of course, different.
We, at the present time, are not considering using military action to stop arms from going from Eastern Europe into the Arab countries, to answer your question directly, Senator.
Senator Morse. Well, it is an answer, but I still do not know what the supplies are that we are going to send in to meet the needs that are created by this war.
She lost a lot of equipment. She lost a lot of planes. What I want to know is, is it going to be the policy of my government that we are going to stand by and see the Arab countries replenished and we are not going to proceed to supply Israel with supplies that she is going to need for replenishment to keep her military force going?
Secretary Rusk. All I said thus far, Senator, is we have not stopped our shipments to Israel, and the question of further aid or resupplies has not come up yet. It has not been brought up to us yet by Israel.
OPPOSE TERRITORIAL ENLARGEMENT
Senator Morse. I quite agree, and this will be my last point. I quite agree that we should not be involved in participating in territorial enlargement or encouraging territorial enlargement by Israel.
I understand they themselves do not seek manpower, that they may seek support. But certainly I think we have a clear duty now to get established once and for all these questions in regard to international waters, including the Straits of Tiran, and certainly made perfectly clear we are going to be on the side of those that recognize that this Suez Canal ought to be operated without discrimination against any country, including Israel, and these are some of the troublesome problems that are involved in the settlement of peace.
But, Mr. Secretary, I think it would be very unfortunate for us if we did not make clear at all times that now we are going to insist on a peace settlement, not on a truce settlement, because the truce settlement simply means we are going to postpone another war for two or three or four years. I think it is very important, for whatever it is worth, and I speak most respectfully, as you know, but I think the State Department has got to make much clearer statements than have been made yet in regard to what we are going to do in insisting that the existing procedures of international law be used to bring about peace over there and not a truce.
Secretary Rusk. I had the impression we had done that in the Security Council, Senator, but we will go from there.
Senator Morse. I listened to it, and I do not form that impression.
Secretary Rusk. But in terms of detailed desiderata, the parties have not come in with theirs at the present time.
Senator Morse. Mr. Secretary, this is a question where we have got to exercise clear leadership in giving news to the world as to exactly where we stand in regard to negotiating a peace.
Mr. Chairman. Senator Cotton?
ISRAELIS MAY REQUEST A DECLARATION OF U.S. INTENT
Senator Cotton. Mr. Secretary, as you have said, our own unilateral commitments to Israel are of a rather informal nature, statements of the President and of his predecessors. Certainly there is a basketful of declarations, but no formal treaty.
If Israel, victorious, is going to be insistent on some safety and security of her rights in the future and does not feel disposed to accept, to rely on the U.N. for safety, and regards us with some satisfaction as, in a sense, a patron, isn't it likely that before the Israelis relinquish the ground they have won, that they may expect from us, by formal treaty, a real declaration of just exactly what our commitments are to them so that it will no longer be nebulous or vague? I am not asking what we would do.
Secretary Rusk. It is possible that they might raise that question. They have not put that to us in connection with the present crisis. That has come up from time to time over the years, but it has not been a part of the conversation during this present--during this year.
Senator Cotton. But if we were sitting where they are sitting before we withdrew, it would not be unlikely, would it, Mr. Secretary?
Secretary Rusk. We have acted at various times in a variety of ways to support the security and the territorial integrity of a number of these states in the area.
Our general statement of policy there has applied for all of the countries in that area, including Israel and, of course, we have had a very close tie with Israel.
I would suppose that the attitudes and statements of four Presidents in this matter have been pretty well supported in the country, and whether you want to get into an additional alliance, treaty or alliance, at this point is something on which your views would be of interest. But I rather had the impression that alliances were not particularly popular these days.
Senator Cotton. The only reason I presume to raise the question, Mr. Secretary, was that at the last briefing I tried to find out what our actual commitments, either legal or moral, unilaterally were with Israel.
Secretary Rusk. Yes. I would be very glad to----
Senator Cotton. And I had some difficulty in finding out what they were.
Secretary Rusk. Senator, we had a meeting of the Foreign Relations Committee in which I tried to review those, and Senator Morse and Senator Lausche and others helped prepare a record on that. I do not know whether you had a chance to look at the transcript of that executive session, but you might ask Mr. Marcy to make that available, because we tried to spell those out in some detail.\1\ If not, I would be very glad to see that you get a special briefing on that point, sir.------------------------------------------
\1\ See transcript of May 23.---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Senator Cotton. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Mr. Chairman. Senator Hruska?
ACHIEVING A PERMANENT PEACE
Senator Allott. Mr. Secretary, what I have to say I say with all respect. But the situation in the Near East, as all of us know, has been coming to a boil for approximately two years.
Secretary Rusk. Excuse me, Senator Allott.
Senator Allott. Has been coming to a boil for approximately two years, and I have attended what briefings we were able to, and it appears that the United States was completely surprised.
We found ourselves in an absolutely untenable position when the UAR closed the Straits of Tiran.
Now, fortunately for the United States, a courageous people, with guts and foresight, have saved our bacon, and I might say also Great Britain's, in the eyes of the world.
I am very interested that in these next few weeks we do whatever is necessary to get a permanent peace there, and in my present thinking it amounts to three things: Suez, Tiran, and borders, and in this same connection with the remarks that Senator Monroney made, it would seem to me that there would be a definite advantage since the Arabs are distinctly disenchanted with the Russians, in being a little reluctant and in just going back into complete diplomatic relations with these people.
The situation of their thinking at the moment, because of the Russian vote last night, is not going to change their feelings toward the Russians overnight. It seems to me that at this time we should show some reluctance and not go back in there and say, “All right, boys, this was fun while it lasted, but now let us go back to where we were before.”
That is a comment. You may have a comment to make to both of them, but I think that we have to take somewhere down the line a much firmer and definite position than we have with the Israelis, and I would hope that we would make the resumption of diplomatic relationships a little bit difficult to procure, not that I say we should refuse, but we should make them a little more difficult.
Secretary Rusk. Well, our attitude in certain other situations like Cambodia and the Congo Brazzaville, where they have broken relations in the past, has been not to resume unless there is a full and bonafide resumption, and we have no intention of begging for restoration.
But, on the other hand, if there is an opportunity to restore them on a full and reasonable basis, with full rights of legation, it has been our tradition to do so. But I certainly will keep your remarks in mind, Senator.
Senator Allott. Thank you.
The Chairman. Senator Case?
Senator Case. Not today.
The Chairman. Senator Cooper?
Senator Cooper. No questions.
The Chairman. Senator Morton?
PUTTING THE CHIPS ON THE TABLE
Senator Javits. Mr. Secretary, I will make two statements of fact and then ask you a question based upon them.
The first statement is that I detect a certain satisfaction and, perhaps, even elation in the President and the Secretary of State that the Israelis have done as they have.
The second point is that unlike Vietnam, here is a tough army, well able to look after itself.
Now, I think the question that is troubling many of us is what is the United States prepared to do to back it up? What risks is it prepared to take?
Now, we know the Russians have said they will give the Arabs all-out support, and we know that the United States has fuzzed around with the words ``neutral in thought, word and deed'' which you have done your best to explain, and bless you, and the President has, and I am not even complaining about what you say. But what are you going to do? Are we prepared to match the Russians, in fact, if they begin to put their chips on the table, notwithstanding what they have said or done in the U.N., or are we not?
Are we going to pussy-foot around with this one, too?
Secretary Rusk. Well, Senator, on that question, putting the chips on the table is something that involves a consultation with the Congress and the President and the Congress acting together. That is the point I told you we were not here to discuss in our earlier consultations, but that would be a matter of the Congress and the President acting together in a situation of that sort.
Secondly, I would say that I would not value the chips that the Russians have put on the table very highly at this point.
Senator Javits. May I just ask one follow-up question?
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
ISRAEL'S LINES ARE VERY EXTENDED
Senator Javits. I agree with you thoroughly. I think you have every reason for satisfaction, and I am all with you. I am only asking for the future, because if we are going to play this very cozy and very safe, then we are going to go one way. I think we are going to get the pants trimmed off of us. But if we are going to take a few risks here, where we have a great army, and when we are taking enormous risks in Vietnam where we have a very, very weak reed to lean on----
Secretary Rusk. Senator, you do not have any indication that the Russians are preparing to intervene in this, do you?
Senator Javits. No, sir. I am not saying this, but you have got enormous problems of supply which Senator Morse has raised, and that is a big thing for the Israelis. The Secretary knows they are immobilized, which means their country can get very poor very fast. All the fellows who work are away, and so these are going to be very real problems. Their lines are very extended. This knifing through is by no means the whole ball game. The Secretary knows that at least as well as I do, and that is the point of my question.
We are going to be called upon to evidence some implementation of our statement about the presentation of the territorial integrity and political independence of the only state who is being threatened really on that score, and that is when performance will really count.
Now, the will to perform is going to be just as important as the deed.
Secretary Rusk. I am supposed to be at a meeting at 6:30 at which some of these questions will be discussed.
Senator Javits. I thank you.
The Chairman. Senator Yarborough?
ISRAEL'S CONTROL OF THE WEST BANK
Senator Yarborough. Mr. Secretary, this is a question of to what extent has the Jordan territory west of the Jordan River been occupied by the Israelis?
Secretary Rusk. They have for all practical purposes military control of the West Bank. They are not completely occupied--they have not yet completely occupied every neighborhood in it.
The Jordanian army is in complete disarray on the West Bank.
There are a million inhabitants on the West Bank, a good many of them refugees from the other part of--from the territory that is now Israel. So it is a very large population which the Israelis now have, for which they now have administrative responsibility.
REESTABLISHING RELATIONS WITH ARAB STATES
Senator Yarborough. My other question was properly a statement as much as a question. I want to approach what the Secretary said about the reestablishment of relations with the Arab states if they ask for it. I am very sympathetic to Israel, as I think nearly all Americans are. Most of us are either of the Jewish or Christian faith, and we feel very close ties, and we have sympathy with Israel.
But these Arabs have been so completely defeated and are so down, that my experience is that when a person is down psychologically, and the whole world is looking down at them, that we ought to pat them on the back, and not pull them down further. I do not think it is any time to kick them when they are down.
Secretary Rusk. Well, Senator, despite all the problems that Nasser has caused, and perhaps some others have caused, looking ahead here for the next twenty-five years, there are going to be 200 million Arabs in this part of the world. This area is adjacent to NATO. It is a vitally important area, and I think that we have a great interest in the prosperity and the safety of Israel. But we cannot neglect this vast area that is inhabited by the Arabs, and be consistent with the long-range interests of our own country.
So we are interested in having a settlement here with which both sides can live permanently. That is the important thing.
To put it into Mr. Eban's own words, you do not withdraw to a state of belligerence, you withdraw to a state of peace.
Senator Yarborough. I agree, Mr. Secretary.
Secretary Rusk. So we have no problem with that.
The Chairman. Senator Prouty?
Senator Prouty. Mr. Secretary, you mentioned earlier that this might be an opportunity for us to do something with respect to the Arab refugees, which has been a great irritant, of course, to the Arab nations, even though they have done nothing to help.
Were you suggesting that there be the possibility of a financial confrontation for property loss?
Secretary Rusk. Senator, if we could get a settlement of that problem between the parties at the expense of paying a substantial amount of money for winding it up we would be down here very fast asking for it.
I personally believe that there is a basis for settling the question on the basis of the individual secret choices of the individual refugee as to where he wants to live, and if a way could be found to give them that secret choice, the practical result would be one with which Israel could live.
I doubt very much that many of these refugees are going to say they want to live in Israel. There will be a fraction of them who would, and Israel will take a fraction of them. But the theory is such that the Arabs won't accede to the fact that anything less than a million of them must have the right to live in Israel, you see. So the theory has complicated the practical arrangements.
THE MIDDLE EAST CRISIS AND VIETNAM
Senator Prouty. I won't ask you to comment on this, but I think it is something you should be thinking about. The rumor is becoming somewhat widespread, I think it was even reported on a broadcast or TV from Vietnam, that Russia's cooperation and the buildup by this action in the Security Council might be attributable to the fact that we are trying to work out some arrangement with them vis-a-vis Vietnam and the situation there.
Secretary Rusk. No. These two situations have not been linked at all in our discussions with the Russians.
Senator Prouty. Thank you.
Secretary Rusk. Those rumors were just sheer speculation with no basis.
The Chairman. Senator Cannon?
SAFETY OF AMERICANS IN ARAB NATIONS
Senator Cannon. Mr. Secretary, do we have reports of any assaults on American citizens in the Arab world other than the two men who were hospitalized in Libya yesterday?
Secretary Rusk. There have been a good many stonings of embassies and consulates. In one place in Benghazi, our embassy personnel locked themselves in their own vault overnight until a company of British troops came in and got them out.
We have not had, I think, deaths to report other than those that you have seen reported publicly about people who got caught actually in the cross-fire.
We have a very large-scale evacuation of Americans going on, and our principal problem at the moment is in Amman because of communications. Elsewhere it seems to be going reasonably well.
Senator Cannon. Have you recommended that Americans who were in those areas evacuate?
Secretary Rusk. Yes, we have.
Senator Cannon. Is that true in Libya?
Secretary Rusk. Libya is--well, we have about 8,500 people at the Wheelus Base, and they will be taken out by the Air Force if required. But we are not making an emergency evacuation of those people at the present time, at the present moment.
Senator Cannon. Thank you.
The Chairman. Senator Muskie?
Senator Muskie. No question.
The Chairman. Senator Fong?
Senator Fong. Yes.
THE EGYPTIAN AND JORDANIAN FRONTS
Mr. Secretary, do you have any intelligence on the material and personnel at the various fronts?
Secretary Rusk. On the what?
Senator Fong. The various fronts. It seems in just the Egyptian sector and the Jordanian sector there is fighting, and the Syrian and Iraq sectors have been quiet.
Secretary Rusk. There has been very little shooting along the Lebanese front. There has been some cross-frontier shooting along the Syrian frontier that has not amounted to very much.
There has been a good deal of fighting between the Israeli and the Jordanian forces, the Jordanians being under the command of an Egyptian general or until very, very recently, and major fighting with the Egyptians.
Lebanon, Syria and Jordan have not been the prime problem. The prime problem has been between Israel and Egypt.
Senator Fong. Have you any intelligence as to the amount of material and personnel involved on the Egyptian front and the Jordanian front?
Secretary Rusk. Quite frankly, I do not have it with me. I can get that information to you if you would like, Senator, but I just do not happen to have it with me.
Senator Fong. Another question: The question of volunteers. I notice there are 3,000 people already ready to go to Israel. What is the State Department's policy on that?
Secretary Rusk. Well, we have barred travel of citizens into that area unless they get special permission with a valid passport. That applies to all the countries in the area, right?
Mr. Macomber. Except the newsmen.
Secretary Rusk. Except newsmen and certain special categories.
Senator Fong. Thank you.
The Chairman. Senator Pell?
IMPROVING RELATIONS WITH THE SOVIET UNION
Senator Pell. Mr. Secretary, the world is a pretty small place. The Soviet Union is in a position now of seeing its friends and allies in the Near East getting defeated, and it also involves North Vietnam, seeing its friends and allies taking a bit of a pasting.
Has any thought been given to, one, following up the cease-fire with sort of a degree of good feelings if we work with the Soviet Union in this part of the world and settle our problems in other parts of the world, and, two, has any thought been given as to how we can avoid pushing the Soviet Union into a corner where it can lash back, such as in Berlin and in other places?
Secretary Rusk. Well, the second point, there is not much we can do about that in this situation.
We did not encourage the Arabs to create this critically dangerous situation or make some rather extragavant public promises to the Arabs about support.
We have not been out of contact with the Soviets on Vietnam at any point during this period.
But whether this situation in the Middle East will have an effect on the possibilities of a settlement in the Far East we just do not know yet. My guess is that they still are looking at these two things rather separately.
The Chairman. Senator Miller?
DANGEROUS EUPHORIA OVER ISRAELI VICTORY
Senator Miller. Just a couple of comments, Mr. Secretary.
I would hope that diplomatic relations would be preceded by some kind of a revocation of these false charges.
Looking down the road and thinking of our relations with the Arab people, unless those charges are eventually revoked, I think we are going to have a difficult time of it. So I would hope that that would be a sine qua non in these diplomatic relations.
The second point is that--I may be wrong--but I detect a sort of a euphoria going around Washington with respect to the success of the Israeli army.
Now, I think that we had better be pretty careful that we do not count our chickens before they are hatched. Senator Morse has raised a very valid point.
I would hope that we would be very careful that we not assume that everything is all over right now.
Thank you very much for coming down.
Secretary Rusk. Right, Senator.
The Chairman. Senator Dominick?
U.S. COMMITMENT TO TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY
Senator Dominick. Mr. Secretary, it is my understanding that we have a commitment to support the territorial integrity of the countries in that area.
Secretary Rusk. That is right, sir.
Senator Dominick. Now, Israel at the present time is on Egyptian-Jordanian territory. Suppose Israel says that in order to withdraw to a peace--this means the West Bank of Jordan or it means Gaza Strip--what do we do then?
Secretary Rusk. Well, they have not said that yet, and I would have to reserve on that, if that situation comes up.
They announced when the fighting started that they would not--they did not have territorial ambitions. But I would not want to answer that one in advance, Senator.
Senator Dominick. Let me put it another way. Is that commitment that we have so binding that this administration would feel it would have to honor it if Israel took that position or can't you--you obviously do not want to answer that at the moment either.
Secretary Rusk. That would be a very serious question, Senator. I think I will not try to answer that one off the cuff.
We have supported the existing territorial arrangements in that area for a long time. That would create some very, very serious problems for the future and would almost guarantee there would be another round of conflict at some point, I would think. I do not know. But I am not trying--I would not want to try--to give you an answer on that one today, sir.
Senator Dominick. My difficulty on this is to see how the Israelis can legitimately feel that they are going to withdraw to a peace unless they do make some substantive changes in their strategic and tactical decisions.
Secretary Rusk. Well, looking ahead they have got the problem to live with 200 million Arabs in 25 years, so they have got to think about a lot of things. Reconciliation with the Arab world is a vital matter for them at some stage, and they have been ready for it during all this period when the Arabs would not even sit down with them at a table.
But I think we should not suppose that they would think that their answers are going to be found by simply boundary adjustments in a major way that would guarantee the lasting enmity of the Arab world.
The Chairman. Senator Robert Kennedy?
REPLENISHING ARMS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Senator Kennedy. Mr. Secretary, assuming that the cease-fire does not come immediately, or assuming that we have a cease-fire in the period of the next 2 or 3 days, and during that period of cease-fire time goes by, a week goes by, two weeks, or three weeks go by, and we still have not reached a permanent peace, what will we be doing during that period of time to replenish the arms and the materiel of Israel, for instance, which, I suppose, would be in desperate need.
The second part of that is if the Soviets really sent in some of these arms and goods at the present time--if there is a cease-fire, of course, the situation changes in the matter--at that period of time they might decide they wanted to replenish at least some of the arms that have been lost by some of the Arab countries, and perhaps regain some of the stature which they lost over the period of the last 2 or 3 days. What would we do?
Secretary Rusk. Well, I think, in the first case, we do expect to have some requests from Israel in the direction of replenishment, and we will certainly take a look at those when they come in, yes.
Senator Kennedy. Could I just ask what that means exactly?
Secretary Rusk. Well, you are familiar with the way these things go, where is the money, what sort of things is it that they want, have we got them, how----
Senator Percy. Can we just assume we will have everything they ask for?
Secretary Rusk. Well, I do not know, Senator. I do not know anything--I do not know any government that is in that position.
Senator Kennedy. I just think that question is going to arise for everybody.
Secretary Rusk. We expect to see them reasonably soon.
SYMPATHETIC VIEW OF ISRAELI ARMS NEEDS
Senator Kennedy. All of us would like to make a responsible decision on it in the Senate. Where would we be on that?
Secretary Rusk. You mean on the first one?
Senator Kennedy. Yes.
Secretary Rusk. I think we would take a pretty sympathetic view toward their essential requirements.
Now, we have not been their major arms supplier, and this problem may be complicated by President de Gaulle's attitude. The French have given them most of their sophisticated weapons or sold them, and cut off spare parts or things of that sort right in the middle of this situation. But we will just have a look at it and see what is required.
Their losses, quite frankly, have not been heavy. They have used a good many consumables and ammunition, but their actual loss of equipment has not been all that heavy.
Senator Kennedy. But I suppose even they will have shortages of ammunition if the fighting continues for another ten days.
Secretary Rusk. Oh, yes, yes, and we have already taken that into account in our own arrangements, that possibility if this thing should go on.
On the other matter, on the Russian side----
Senator Muskie. On that question, Mr. Secretary, does that mean you are going to try to work out assistance for them?
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
RUSSIAN AID TO ARAB NATIONS
On the other side, what the Russians will do, I do not know that we will get into military prevention of some supplies going from the Russians to those countries. But my guess is that they would have to supply a lot more than equipment at this time to recoup the situation in certain of these Arab countries.
Senator Kennedy. If they did take that kind of a step, if they decided they were going to furnish more planes or whatever it might be, if they decided that they were going to furnish some kind of equipment, would we be in opposition to that? Would we be prepared to offset whatever they do?
Secretary Rusk. You mean in Israel?
Senator Kennedy. Yes.
Secretary Rusk. I thought--do you mean we would interrupt the Russian supply?
Senator Kennedy. No.
Secretary Rusk. We would take that into account, and what we would do so far as Israel is concerned, we have tried to strike that balance all along. There have been a good many who felt we were underestimating Israeli requirements. Our feeling has been that Israel was in pretty good shape in relation to its neighbors, and I do not believe the events in the last few days have disproved that.
So that we feel we have an interest in the security of the countries out there in relation to each other, and we won't be at all indifferent to the Israeli needs in this situation.
Senator Javits. The Secretary said he is going to a meeting at 6:30 on this very subject. Is that going to be discussed?
Mr. Chairman. I wonder, Senator Percy is the only one who has not asked a question. Do you have a question?
ISRAEL'S ACCESS TO THE SUEZ CANAL
Senator Percy. You have indicated it would be dangerous in speaking about negotiating terms with Israel. I have already taken a position with some of my constituents that it would be reasonable for Israel not only to insist on access to the Straits of Tiran but also access to the Suez Canal.
Secretary Rusk. I did not mean by that that I was suggesting that any of you are limited to expressing your own views on this matter.
Senator Percy. I see.
Secretary Rusk. It would be very difficult to quote me on the subject or attribute news to me at this point.
Senator Percy. I think the question also as to whether there is any change in the State Department's attitude on bridge-building and East-West trade, and things of that type, will come out before us very quickly, whether you are going to continue, if it is proven the Soviets have been a little mischievous in this area, whether you will have the same attitude or not. Perhaps we need not talk about it now, but at some time it would be helpful to discuss that phase of it.
Secretary Rusk. Well, I would say my own present view on that, sir, is we ought to continue to try, and I would also add that the Soviets were more--have been more--restrained in this situation than we thought they might be.
Senator Kennedy. Can I just finish the last question? Is our policy in the Middle East still to maintain the territorial integrity of the countries?
Secretary Rusk. Yes. How you do it depends on the circumstances.
[Whereupon, at 6:30 p.m., the committee adjourned.]
Source: Federation of American Scientists