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Congress & the Middle East: Senate Letter Condemning President Ford on Blaming Israel for Peace Process Suspension

(May 22, 1975)

In this letter, 76 Senators came out openly against the Ford administration's efforts to blame Israel for the suspension of the talks in March and criticized the policy of withholding aid from Israel. The Senators called for return to the 1967 policy of achieving peace through direct negotiations between the parties. Text:

Dear Mr. President,

You will recall that last December a substantial majority of the Senate wrote you urging a reiteration of our nation's longstanding commitment to Israel's security "by a policy of continued, military supplies and diplomatic and economic support."

Since 1967, it has been American policy that the Arab-Israel conflict should be settled on the basis of secure and recognized boundaries that are defensible, and direct negotiations between the nations involved. We believe that this approach continues to offer the best hope for a just and lasting peace.

While the suspension of the second-stage negotiations is regrettable, the history of the Arab-Israel conflict demonstrates that any Israeli withdrawal must be accompanied by meaningful steps towards peace by its Arab neighbors.

Recent events underscore American's need for reliable allies and the desirability of greater participation by the Congress in the formulation of American foreign policy. Cooperation between the Congress and the President is essential for America's effectiveness in the world. During this time of uncertainty over the future direction of our policy, we support you in strengthening our ties with nations which share our democratic traditions and help to safeguard our national interests. We believe that the special relationship between our country and Israel does not prejudice improved relations with other nations in the region.

We believe that a strong Israel constitutes a most reliable barrier to domination of the area by outside parties. Given the recent heavy flow of Soviet weaponry to Arab states, it is imperative that we not permit the military balance to shift against Israel.

We believe that preserving the peace requires that Israel obtain a level of military and economic support adequate to deter a renewal of war by Israel's neighbors. Withholding military equipment from Israel would be dangerous, discouraging accommodation by Israel's neighbors and encouraging a resort to force.

Within the next several weeks, the Congress expects to receive your foreign aid requests for fiscal year 1976. We trust that your recommendations will be responsive to Israel's urgent military and economic needs. We urge you to make it clear, as we do, that the United States acting in its own national interests stands firmly with Israel in the search for peace in future negotiations, and that this premise is the basis of the current reassessment of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry