Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sessions: Statement by Secretary of State Dean Rusk
(June 28, 1967)
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE DEAN RUSK SECRETARY OF STATE
Secretary Rusk. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I thought I might try to draw together a good many threads here of the last two weeks to include what is going on in New York, the summit discussions, and to bring you up to date on my talk with Mr. Gromyko last evening which was the most recent of our exchanges with the Soviet Union.
Much of our time was spent on the Middle East, and I think we ought to keep in mind that there are three sets of issues in the Middle East which tend to merge, overlap, which tend to break up the notion that there is a solid community called ``The Arabs,'' in which our interests vary from issue to issue.
There is the Israel-Arab issue, which involves very deep-seated emotions on both sides, emotions which were inflamed 20 years ago with the creation of the State of Israel, and which have not really subsided--issues on which almost all Arabs speak with a single voice.
Then there is a very serious contest going on between the self-styled progressive Arab states, countries like Egypt, Syria, Algeria, and the moderate or conservative Arab states which comprise almost all the rest.
The third is a serious effort by the Soviet Union to penetrate the Middle East to establish an effective presence there at the expense of the West, which carries with it very heavy overtones affecting the total world situation.
At the fringe is a minor Chinese Communist effort in the area, but I haven't found anyone among the Arabs particularly that I have talked to in recent weeks who take the Chinese activity very seriously, although they have been busy with the Palestine Liberation Army and a few minor groups here and there.
MIDDLE EAST QUESTION IN SECURITY COUNCIL
I think the committee was briefed in great detail up to the point where the Middle Eastern question moved from the Security Council to the General Assembly. We had no enthusiasm for that transfer of the forum because in the first instance we felt that in the Security Council the voting situation was such that it required that any result be a negotiated result. It was not possible for the Security Council to pass a wholly one-sided resolution or a resolution which had not been at least in part negotiated between the two sides, and the Security Council had succeeded in passing four unanimous resolutions and had been able to bring about a cease-fire when the hostilities actually began.
Further, we anticipated that the Soviet Union would use the General Assembly for a major propaganda effort to reaffirm its support of the Arabs and cast the United States in the role of the enemy of the Arabs, partly as a part of its long range strategy and partly to recover from the very serious setback which the Soviet Union itself had suffered when, in the face of a striking Arab defeat, the Soviet Union was considered by many Arabs to have let them down.
KOSYGIN'S VISIT TO THE U.N.
It was against this background that we heard that Mr. Kosygin was coming.
Despite the fact that we were in regular touch with him on the ``Hot Line'' there for several days, he did not give us any private information that he was coming. It was simply announced he was coming to the General Assembly.
When we heard that, Mr. Christian, the Press Secretary for the White House, made a short statement indicating that he would be welcome and that we hoped that he would enjoy his visit to this country and that the President and he might meet while he was here.
After his arrival, we let it be known to him that the President would be glad to extend him hospitality in Washington or Camp David with whatever degree of formality or informality he might be able or willing to accept.
But he took the view that he was coming to the United Nations and not to the United States, that he could not visit the United States as such and, therefore, he did not believe it would be appropriate for him to come to Washington.
Well, that led to consideration of other places, and we finally decided upon Glassboro on the recommendation of the Governor of New Jersey.
Just before the announcement of the Glassboro meeting was made, I had gone to see Mr. Kosygin and told him there were a number of points which the President would be ready and glad to have a chance to discuss and if he, Mr. Kosygin, thought such a talk would be worthwhile the President would be glad to meet him in New York, in New York State or in New Jersey.
Those four points were: Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the ABM problem, the Middle East, and Vietnam.
KOSYGIN'S MIDDLE EAST RESOLUTION
Now, as far as the Assembly is concerned, on the opening day, Mr. Kosygin not only made his speech but also put in a resolution which had in it three key points: One, a condemnation of Israel; secondly, a demand for the withdrawal of Israeli forces immediately and unconditionally; and, third, reparation or compensation by Israel to the Arabs for the damage inflicted and a return of captured property including captured arms.
I think it is worth noting that in recent days discussion of a condemnation of Israel and the matter of reparations has pretty well dropped out of the picture and the Soviet Union is concentrating now on an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israeli forces back to the so-called armistice lines.
PRESIDENT JOHNSON'S FIVE POINTS
The following day, Ambassador Goldberg put in a United States resolution built around the five points in the President's speech of June 19: The recognized right of national life, justice for the refugees, innocent maritime passage, limits on the arms race, and political and territorial integrity for all the states in the area.
We did that partly to broaden the agenda of the Assembly itself because up until that point the item on the agenda was Israeli aggression. But when we put in our resolution calling for steps to stabilize a general and more permanent peace in the area, then that was by arrangement with the Secretariat included on the agenda of the General Assembly.
The situation at the present time is that neither the Soviet resolution nor the U.S. resolution is likely to pass with the necessary two-thirds vote. What is likely to happen is that there will be some third resolution, still unsurfaced, around which some sort of consensus might build, combining the idea of withdrawal with some of these broader principles of stabilizing a permanent peace.
In our talks with Mr. Kosygin and two additional talks which I had with Mr. Gromyko, we took up the Middle East situation in great detail. I suppose 80 percent of the President's time with Kosygin was spent on the Middle East. Kosygin's very tough press conference on the subject is a pretty accurate reflection of what he said in private. He is pressing very hard for a simple and unconditional withdrawal of Israeli forces to the armistice line, and is unwilling to talk seriously about other issues until that question of withdrawal has been resolved.
AGREEMENT ON ISRAELI SOVEREIGNTY
Having said that, it is, I think, correct to say that there are important, indeed major points of agreement between ourselves and the Soviet Union on the Middle East.
For example, the Soviet Union accepts Israel as an independent national state. It voted for its creation, and Mr. Kosygin reaffirmed that in his speech to the General Assembly.
The Soviet Union, I think, would support the idea of an elimination of the state of belligerence.
Now, this is a very important, indeed a fundamental point involved in this present situation, because the Arab states, particularly those immediately neighboring Israel, have proceeded on the basis that they are in a state of war with Israel and have the right to exercise the so-called rights of belligerence in their dealings about or with Israel.
When President Nasser, for example, closed the Strait of Tiran, we were immediately in touch with him, and he based the closing of the Strait of Tiran on rights of belligerence stemming from the state of war with Israel. That raises some interesting points of a reciprocal character because the Egyptians tend to overlook the fact that if Egypt is in a state of war with Israel, Israel is in a state of war with Egypt. The Latin Americans have pointed out from a legal point of view, around New York, that if Egypt is in a state of war with Israel, Israel cannot commit aggression against Egypt, and that the question of withdrawal takes on a special and less insistent role if a state of war is insisted upon.
But I think the Soviet Union would agree to find some way to remove the rights of belligerence at some stage, after withdrawal has been accomplished.
END THE STATE OF BELLIGERENCE
Mr. Gromyko volunteered the interesting remark that whereas Japan and the Soviet Union do not have a peace treaty with each other, they did join 10 years ago to remove the state of belligerence between the two countries, and that is an interesting precedent for this kind of problem here in the Middle East.
I think also that the United States would have no particular problem with the Soviet Union on rights of maritime passage.
Senator Aiken. Is that public knowledge, the state of belligerency?
Secretary Rusk. Yes, it is. Would you like to have the documentation on that?
Senator Aiken. No, I just want to know whether it is safe to refer to it.
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
Senator Aiken. It would be helpful.
Senator Clark. It would be safer to refer to the fact that the Russians would approve ending the state of belligerence.
Secretary Rusk. No, I don't think you had better put words in their mouths on it. I think you can point out that Russia and Japan removed the state of belligerence between them 10 years ago even though there is not a peace treaty between them, and I would urge out of this no one put words in the Russians' mouths because I would like to talk rather freely about the Russians' views on some of these things.
I don't think we will have much problem with the Russians on the question of maritime passage.
OPENING THE STRAIT OF TIRAN
I can tell the committee that Egypt has let it be known that the Strait of Tiran problem can be resolved; that the Strait can be opened. The sticking point is that they want to do it informally and as secretly as possible. In other words, it is not the kind of thing that you can handle secretly. Ships pass through, and unless there is some real assurance, an assurance would have to be public, it is very hard to see how this could be managed.
But I think we can assume that in all of this business the Strait of Tiran will be opened.
I don't believe the Soviets would object to Israeli ships going through the Suez, but we are a long way from having the consent of Cairo for the passage of Israeli flag ships through Suez.
Senator Hickenlooper. Have they started clearing the channel yet?
Secretary Rusk. I haven't had information that they have. I understand that there is about a 30 day job to clear the channel with three or four ships that have been in trouble there.
Senator Aiken. Who sunk the ships?
Secretary Rusk. There was one with cement in it that I understand the Egyptians sunk. There is another one that ran aground, whether it was trying to dodge or something. I just don't know of individual ships, but at least one with cement in it was sunk by Egyptians.
ARMS RACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
We went into the question of the arms race with the Soviet Union, and I must say that I think I detect more interest among the Arabs in finding some limitation to the arms race than I do on the part of the Soviet Union. I think we ought to bear in mind that this question of arms in the Near East is not something which we are likely to be able to manage by our own unilateral efforts, particularly so long as the Soviet Union continues to send very large supplies of weapons in there, because it is a three-cornered problem.
With the massive Soviet arms build-up in Egypt, Syria, and Algeria, that creates problems in the first instance for their own Arab neighbors, the moderate or conservative regimes who feel under pressure from Cairo or in the case of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. So that we have in the past tried to make moderate amounts of arms available to Jordan, for example.
We have sold some arms to Saudi Arabia although the British are their principal supplier, and we have given some very modest assistance to countries like Tunisia and Morocco.
But that, in turn, creates a problem with Israel. We did have some well understood balanced arms supplies both to Jordan and to Israel to the knowledge of both in a situation in which they were reasonably content on both sides with what was being done.
KEEPING AN HONEST CONTACT WITH BOTH SIDES
Senator Lausche. At this point, Mr. Secretary,----
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
Senator Lausche.--May I state that when a delegation was in Tel Aviv, we were told by Mrs. Meir that they knew from the State Department that U.S. military equipment was going in there. That is, she corroborates what you have just said that Israel was fully familiar with what you were doing.
Secretary Rusk. Well, we have tried to keep in honest contact with both Jordan and Israel on this question, because I think each one of them knew that such arms as we were putting in there were not aimed at the country across the border, but in each case had a different purpose.
So that I think we should have in our minds if we withdraw completely from the area and leave the area completely to Soviet supplied arms to Egypt and Syria, then we expose a good many of these countries, Arab as well as Israel, to a build-up and dangers and threats which could work very much against our interests and those of the western world.
I don't want to get into that in any more detail than the committee wishes to, but I just wanted to mention it in passing.
The Soviets did not give us much encouragement, however, on the question of limitation of arms to the Near East. Our present information, and I think perhaps we could leave this off the tape at the moment----
[Discussion off the record.]
Senator Symington. Mr. Chairman, I have got to go to another hearing at 10:30 and I wonder as long as this subject has been brought up if I can ask the Secretary one or two questions.
Senator Lausche. May I say, Mr. Chairman, I have another meeting to go to, too.
Senator Clark. I have another meeting at 10:30.
Senator Lausche. Go ahead. I have no objection.
The Chairman. You take two or three minutes, whatever you want.
THE BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSE
Senator Symington. There is just one question I have to ask. I have heard that the build-up is considerably more from another branch of the government than what you have stated, and my only single question is what will be our position if the Israelis decide that the best defense is a good offense again?
Secretary Rusk. Well, I was just given this information this morning. My information is that this is an all-department judgment at the present time.
Senator Symington. In any case, my question is, if they decide the best defense is the best offense again, what would be the position of the United States?
Secretary Rusk. I think we would advise strongly both sides here not to initiate another round of hostilities just as we did before this last round started.
Senator Symington. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, gentlemen.
The Chairman. All right, continue, Mr. Secretary.
Secretary Rusk. Well, I have tried to summarize briefly the general attitude of the Soviet Union on the Middle East. As I say, that took up about 80 percent of the time in the discussions between the Chairman and the President.
On the question of non-proliferation, I think we did make some significant headway. On June 7, our two representatives in Geneva, the two co-chairmen of the Geneva Conference, put their heads together and recommended to their governments ad referendum a joint draft which, if it were to be approved by the two governments, would be submitted to the Geneva Conference without Article III on safeguards.
We looked over that and were satisfied with it as a basis for further negotiation with the other members of the conference, and with governments not members of the conference, and authorized our man to proceed.
The Soviets have not yet authorized their man to join in tabling that resolution, that draft treaty.
We talked about that in some detail with Mr. Kosygin and Mr. Gromyko, and it is my impression, I cannot guarantee this, but it is my impression that within a very few days the Soviet Union will agree in Geneva to table the draft that has now been prepared, minus Article III on safeguards, leaving Article III blank for further negotiation between the two co-chairmen.
I think that represents some significant headway, and we can be, I think, reasonably pleased that that step may be in sight.
SOVIETS WARN OF RENEWED FIGHTING IN MIDDLE EAST
There were no polemics on either side. There were no threats. There was an indication by the Soviet Union that they thought fighting would break out again in the Middle East if there was not a prompt withdrawal of Israeli forces. But that was about as close as discussion came----
Senator Case. Would you say that again?
Secretary Rusk. I said the Chairman, Mr. Kosygin, indicated that he thought there was a very high prospect of fighting in the Middle East if the Israeli forces did not withdraw promptly and unconditionally, but that was as close as the conversation got to a threat, and the meaning of that is a little hard to understand.
I think it was made quite clear if they got into it themselves that would be a very serious matter indeed. We would ourselves be much concerned about that, and we fully expected that they would not themselves get involved in the situation. I didn't get the impression that they were saying they were just about to.
ASSESSMENT OF THE ARAB SIDE
Whether the Arabs themselves are able to contemplate a further round at this point, I think is very doubtful. But there are additional aircraft that have been brought back in there lately. The Arabs have seen the value of a tactical first strike so one can't be sure as to exactly what would happen.
More generally in the area, we are not completely sure just what is happening in Cairo; who is really in charge; who is giving instructions.
I had two long talks with Dr. Fawzi myself in New York, preceded by a talk which Averell Harriman had with him. I did not get too much impression that he was acting under any clear instructions from his own government, and the talks proved to be rather tentative in character.
The government in Syria is very fragile at the moment and there could be political changes in Syria at almost any minute.
King Hussein of Jordan has increased his stature considerably during this period within the Arab world because, of all the Arabs, the Jordanians at least fought with considerable courage. The King himself was there and lost five members of his family. He gained additional respect among the Arabs for having, in effect, as they saw it, acted like a man compared to the way some of the others acted.
We are going to have a great deal of trouble in trying to bring together the various principles on which a permanent peace can be established there.
The Arabs are going to be extremely sensitive about making major concessions which appear to be made under the impact of a dramatic Israeli military success.
ISRAELI ANNEXATION OF THE OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM
On the Israeli side, it is going to take them a little while longer, I think, for the second thoughts to take hold, and get them focusing on what is necessary to effect some sort of reconciliation with the Arabs for the long run.
I have to say that, from the national point of view, I think the action they seemed to be taking yesterday and today to annex the old city of Jerusalem is going to be deeply resented by many members of the United Nations who look upon that as presenting them with a fait accompli. I think that is going to cost the Israeli a good many votes up there before this present session is over.
We strongly urged the Israelis not to take any action of that sort that would present everybody else with a fait accompli, because the problems are difficult enough at best, but apparently they have gone ahead at least to the extent of electing a government for the old city.
On how permanent a basis, I am not quite sure. I haven't actually seen the details. But that action, I think, is going to cost them considerably in the General Assembly.
Mr. Chairman, I have wandered, rambled around quite a bit in order to open up a number of points that the members of the committee might wish to get into. I am at your disposal to pursue these matters in more detail.
The Chairman. Well, fine.
OPENING THE SUEZ CANAL
Senator Lausche. I have no further questions--by the way, has there been any talk about setting up some plan that would make the Suez Canal permanently open to all peaceful sea-moving vessels?
Secretary Rusk. Egypt thus far has been very resistant to the idea of opening up the canal to the flags of all nations, including Israel. However, if one could remove this state of belligerence, this state of war between Egypt and Israel, it is possible that in time, and perhaps not too long in the future as a practical matter, Israeli flag ships might go through the canal because the legal basis for keeping them out of the canal is the state of war.
Senator Lausche. I have no further questions.
The Chairman. Senator Hickenlooper?
Senator Hickenlooper. I have no questions on this particular phase of this at the moment.
ASSAULT ON THE LIBERTY
I did want to ask you if you are prepared to make any statement on it at the moment, it may be out of your bailiwick, about the assault on the Liberty Ship in the eastern Mediterranean killing the Americans.
The Chairman. Here is a letter about it.
Senator Hickenlooper. I didn't know about this letter.
The Chairman. This man wrote a letter----
Senator Lausche. Are you two having a private conversation?
The Chairman. No, it is about a Liberty Ship. He started to ask and I thought maybe he would like to see it.
Senator Hickenlooper. He told me I had bad breath. [Laughter]
Secretary Rusk. I was just informed, Mr. Chairman, after my arrival back in Washington this morning, that the report of the Naval Court of Inquiry has now been received, and that the Department of Defense will make public this afternoon a summary of that report.
I have not had a chance, myself, to see it or to study it, but the two opening paragraphs of the summary are as follows:
A Navy Court of Inquiry has determined that USS Liberty was in international waters, properly marked as to her identity and nationality, and in calm, clear weather when she suffered an unprovoked attack by Israeli aircraft and motor torpedo boats June 8, in the eastern Mediterranean. The court produced evidence that the Israeli armed forces had ample opportunity to identify Liberty correctly. The Court had insufficient information before it to make a judgment on the response for the decision by Israeli aircraft and motor torpedo boats to attack.
Now, we have given the Israelis a very stiff note on this subject. When we get the results of the inquiry and some estimates of the damage and the compensation required, we expect to be filing for full compensation as is customary in such cases.
It is my understanding that it is considered to be an accidental attack insofar as the intent of the Israeli government is concerned.
The Chairman. The government, as distinguished from----
ISRAELI INVESTIGATION OF THE INCIDENT
Senator Hickenlooper. How about the people who ran the attacking ships?
Secretary Rusk. They are themselves conducting a companion inquiry into it, and the Israeli military advocate general is holding a preliminary judicial inquiry by a legally qualified judge who is empowered by law to decide on the committal for trial of any person.
So it looks as though that indicates that they think there may be some culpability on the part of individuals who might have been involved in this attack.
Senator Hickenlooper. What does the investigation show? The rumor, and statements we have had thus far, indicate that Israeli planes made two or three passes over the ship as much as at least 30 minutes or more before the attack occurred at a low altitude apparently for the purpose of identification of the ship. Also that at least one torpedo boat of the Israelis came up very close to the ship before the attack was made, and then backed away, and then fired at the ship.
Secretary Rusk. Again, I don't consider myself a very expert witness on this point at the moment, Senator, but I do see here on the summary that I have in front of me: ``The Court heard witnesses testify to significant surveillance of the Liberty on three separate occasions from the air at various times prior to the attack, five hours and 13 minutes before the attack, three hours and 7 minutes before the attack and two hours and 37 minutes before the attack. Inasmuch as this,'' that is the U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry, ``was not an international investigation, no evidence was presented on whether any of these aircraft had identified Liberty or whether they had passed any information on Liberty to their own higher headquarters.''
You see, we do not have in front of our own Naval Court of Inquiry Israeli personnel or officers or anything of that sort so the Court of Inquiry under those circumstances could not, I suppose, properly make a finding on that point.
SURVEILLANCE OF SHIP PRIOR TO ATTACK
Senator Hickenlooper. Anyway, they did establish from whatever testimony they had, they established the fact that the passes had been made over this ship?
Secretary Rusk. That there was significant surveillance of the Liberty on three separate occasions.
Senator Hickenlooper. Three separate occasions as much as two hours before?
Senator Williams. Five hours.
Senator Hickenlooper. Five hours; two hours.
Secretary Rusk. Five hours, three and two and a-half.
Senator Hickenlooper. Over this ship, five, three and two and a-half over this ship.
Incidentally, this lad who gave this interview in the New York Post is from my home country, Palo, Iowa.
The Chairman. Is he bound to be a straightforward, honest virtuous fellow?
Senator Hickenlooper. Yeoman Brownfield is his name.
This is the first I have seen of this story.
Senator Lausche. Was he a man on the ship?
Senator Hickenlooper. Yes, he is a yeoman on the ship.
Secretary Rusk. I think I should add here, I see also in this same paragraph this statement by the Court, our own Court:
“It was not the responsibility of the Court to rule on the culpability of the attackers and no evidence was heard from the attacking nation. Witnesses suggested that the flag,” that is the U.S. flag, “may have been difficult for the attackers to see, both because of the slow speed of the ship and because after five or six separate air attacks by at least two planes each, smoke and flames may have helped obscure the view from the motor torpedo boats.”
Senator Hickenlooper. Well, the time to identify the flag was before they shot.
Secretary Rusk. Yes. Whether the flag was out or limp on its mast, that is part of the point they were talking about here.
But I haven't had a chance to study it, Senator, and I wouldn't want to----
Senator Hickenlooper. Well, I hope we get a full report on this, because I can't help but draw the conclusion at this moment, subject to such evidence as may develop later, that all of the known facts, at least to me, indicate that they were either blind or utterly stupid, or they deliberately identified this ship and deliberately attacked it with the purpose of sinking it, and I think in any event, it is very bad.
Senator Mundt. Will the Senator yield on that point?
Senator Hickenlooper. Yes.
Senator Mundt. When you say you sent them a stiff note to ask for indemnification, in international parlance is that just asking them to restore the ship or pay some kind of indemnity to the families of the people killed?
Secretary Rusk. My understanding is it is indemnity of personnel as well.
Senator Hickenlooper. You have not gone through that so I will not attempt to have you do it piecemeal on that.
Secretary Rusk. There will be a statement made by the Department of Defense today, and I have no doubt full information can be made available to this committee.
The Chairman. Senator Pell, do you have a question?
Senator Pell. Yes.
TAKING THE INCIDENT TO THE WORLD COURT
Following up Senator Mundt's question there, you have no idea as to the amount of indemnity of people killed? I have a constituent killed there.
Secretary Rusk. No. I do not have any information on that at the present time. There is considerable practice on that point. I just do not know what it is. I am not sufficiently informed at the present moment.
Senator Pell. Another question in connection with the Israeli crisis: Would there be any possibility or any merit to the idea of advocating a position of referring these points of issue between Israel and the Arab nations to--some of them at least--to the World Court for an advisory opinion, to put it on ice for a little bit? It would give each side an opportunity to make its arguments and give each side a face-saving excuse to accept retrenching to a degree.
Secretary Rusk. The possibility of referring the Strait of Tiran to the World Court was considered and discussed internationally before the fighting started, and the great difficulty there was that we could not get an agreement on the status quo during the appeal to the World Court. Would the strait be open or not while the matter was before the Court?
There is a second aspect to it and that is from a purely legal point of view, if Egypt went to the Court and said, ``We are in a state of war with Israel, and the closing of the strait'' is an exercise of our rights of belligerence,'' that would have been a very strong position in the Court as a matter of law.
So I think that on that particular point we are better off today than we would have been in referring it to the Court because I think we are going to get the strait open.
Senator Pell. Right.
Actually, from a conversation with the Department of Justice, I understand even if it is not a state of belligerency we are on thin ice so far as the straits.
Secretary Rusk. Quite frankly, our own estimate on that, given the composition of the Court, our own estimate on that is that a decision either way might be an 8 to 7 decision and that is not a very encouraging prospect in order to resolve a problem that is a cassus belli to one side and a very inflammable issue to the other.
Senator Mundt. We have that every week.
The Chairman. Every Monday morning.
THE STATUS OF JERUSALEM
Senator Pell. From the viewpoint of the United States now, though, might it not be of merit to advocate this? Maybe it cannot be achieved, but it would be a position to advance, not just for the straits but for the question of the Jordanian land west of the Jordan or the status of the Gaza Strip, or the status of Jerusalem. Would this not have merit?
Secretary Rusk. I doubt the parties would permit such political questions to be settled by the Court.
Senator Pell. I would agree with you. But from the U.S. viewpoint, might it not have merit to advance it as a public position?
Secretary Rusk. The status of Jerusalem, under the original U.N. resolution, the entire city was supposed to have been internationalized, you will recall, and indeed we have not recognized the occupation of the new city of Jerusalem by Israel. We keep our embassy in Tel Aviv. But I am not at all sure that the issue would be considered by the Court to be justifiable as opposed to being a political question. I do not know. I would have to think more about that, Senator.
Senator Pell. I was just thinking under article 65 of the Court's mandate if we could advocate that an advisory opinion be given and secure acceptance of it, at least it would give us a good propaganda position in the world as advocating a juridical position.
Secretary Rusk. As I have talked to different sides in New York, I have the impression that the old city of Jerusalem is going to be the most difficult of the questions involved here and it is possible that there could be some way to have some aspects of that considered in the Court at some stage. I do not believe that Israel has major territorial claims other than the old city of Jerusalem.
Senator Pell. And also it divides in the hills where they can throw the rocks down.
Secretary Rusk. Yes. But the U.N. truce machinery is now working on that, and we have had some encouragement to think they are getting somewhere with both sides on the Syrian hills on the border between Israel and Syria.
Senator Lausche. Senator Pell, will you allow me to put a question?
What do you envision as involving the old area of Jerusalem? Is it the whole bulge that pushes itself into the main body of Israel?
Secretary Rusk. No, not the west bank as a whole. Simply the old walled city of Jerusalem.
Senator Lausche. All right.
POTENTIAL OF RENEWED WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Senator Cooper. I would appreciate it if I can. I have about three or four questions.
The first I would go to is this question of any possibility of resumption of war in the Middle East. You said that Kosygin suggested war might break out again in two or three situations. If the Soviet Union is rearming Egypt and Algeria and Syria, do you think that carries with it any suggestion that at any time in the near future Egypt and Syria might start aggressive action and be supported by the Soviet Union other than just by the supply of arms? Is there any possibility?
Secretary Rusk. I think that is a possibility one cannot fully discount.
My own hunch is that they have had it for a while, and it would be very difficult for them to. We do not at the present time have information indicating that the Soviets contemplate a direct military intervention on their side.
ISRAELI COMPLIANCE WITH GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTIONS
Senator Cooper. I know it is speculative. But the second point is growing out of any action in the U.N. Now in the event that the General Assembly called upon Israel to withdraw, would it refer this to the Security Council or would the General Assembly try to establish its own enforcement procedures?
Secretary Rusk. The basic constitutional position is that the General Assembly recommends.
Senator Cooper. To the Security Council.
Secretary Rusk. To the parties or to the members or to the Security Council. My guess is if the General Assembly recommends a general withdrawal by Israel, Israel would not comply and it would go to the Security Council.
Mr. Kosygin indicated in his press conference he thought the recommendations of the Assembly would go back to the Security Council for implementation.
Senator Cooper. Russia does not accept the Uniting for Peace Resolution.
Secretary Rusk. Only for the purpose of bringing this matter to the General Assembly because they did use that procedure to get it to the General Assembly. But I would think that the recommendations of the General Assembly would wind up again in the Security Council.
Senator Cooper. Then if the Security Council agreed upon some method of, I would say, enforcement, to try to secure consent on the part of Israel, would there then be any possibility that Russia would say, ``Well, the Security Council will not act. Then we are going to act. We are going to support the resolution.'' It has been indicated in statements they said if you construe them very liberally. This is a lot of speculation but everybody felt so fine a couple of weeks ago, the war, the possibility of war had ended, and in considering Kosygin's very strict position, I wonder if it has any holding of possibility of war.
Secretary Rusk. I think the dangers are not by any means completely ended. I think perhaps the guerrilla technique is a real possibility, and that might, in turn, start more normal operations by Israel, for example, if they ran into more guerrilla action.
But, quite frankly, we just have no way of being sure.
QUIET HARD NEGOTIATION
Senator Lausche. John, what is our government to do if it goes back to the Security Council with the recommendation?
Senator Cooper. I suppose we will have to wait and see what it was. That would be the answer.
Secretary Rusk. My guess is, Senator, that what would come out of the Security Council would be based upon a lot of quiet, hard negotiation among the different sides, otherwise you could not get a resolution passed by the Security Council.
Senator Case. May I just interrupt on this point?
Secretary Rusk. Yes, Senator.
CHANCES OF A RUSSIAN MILITARY OPERATION
Senator Case. On this question that Senator Cooper asked, the chance of Russia taking it upon itself or the application of sanctions for the violation of the Security Council recommendation, have we made clear, or is it or would we make clear, that we would oppose, interpose ourselves in such a case so as to check Russia from any such adventures?
Secretary Rusk. I do not think the Soviets are in any doubt about that.
Senator Case. That is all I wanted to be sure of.
Secretary Rusk. Let me point out, Senator Case----
Senator Case. I am not talking about public posture.
Secretary Rusk. I understand. Let me point out that this is not a case where the Russians could put in a battalion or two. This is a major military effort if they made a military effort. In the first place, the support they would have from Arab assistance would be rather flimsy. That has already been demonstrated. This is a long way for them to operate in a major military operation with their communications as they are, their sea routes as they are.
So this is not a very attractive military expedition from their point of view.
Senator Cooper. I did want to raise a question----
Secretary Rusk. The more serious question would be some Russian pilots.
Senator Gore. Would be what?
Secretary Rusk. Russian pilots.
Senator Cooper. If the Security Council called upon Israel's withdrawal and perhaps they had some trouble in establishing some kind of enforcing agency, and Russia could say we support the U.N. under certain of those sections and we will take whatever action we think is necessary to support the U.N., of course that could lead to war with us.
WITHDRAWAL TO NATIONAL TERRITORIES
The Chairman. I have one other question before you leave. Do we have a position on the resolution requiring withdrawal to the armistice line? The reason I have asked that, the President has stated he believes in the territorial integrity of all states in the Middle East. What is our position on that in a resolution where you have to vote on whether or not they withdraw?
Secretary Rusk. We have taken a position that a single unconditional withdrawal to a state of war is not good enough. For example, it will make a difference if they would say withdrawal to national territories.
Senator Case. What would that mean?
Secretary Rusk. Well, it would mean Israel exists and has some national territory. These are not just boundaries or armistice lines and a state of war, do you see?
Senator Case. I see.
Secretary Rusk. Or if you could hook it on to a state of belligerence. But just to go back to armistice lines where Egypt considers itself at war with Israel, but Israel must not lift a finger because it is at war with Egypt is not going to bring peace.
Senator Case. If you couple conditions with it you would support it, similar----
Secretary Rusk. We are not objecting to withdrawal. But what we are saying is you ought to withdraw to peace and not a state of war.
Senator Mundt. Territorial is that difference.
Secretary Rusk. The territorial problem is going to be--the most difficult one is the city of Jerusalem.
Senator Case. How about Syria?
Secretary Rusk. I think they are working on that in the U.N. machinery. Israel has no interests in Syrian territory.
INTERNATIONALIZATION OF JERUSALEM
Senator Gore. You will bear in mind, too, if you withdraw to conditions one of the conditions might be implementation of the U.N. resolution about internationalization of the old city of Jerusalem.
Secretary Rusk. This is a very, very serious problem because members of the Jewish faith feel very, very strongly about the city of David and Solomon; so do the Moslems for reasons stemming from their religion; so do the Christians, and feelings run very high on it.
I think this is going to be the most troublesome, inflammatory and difficult part to resolve of the whole business here--what happens in the old city of Jerusalem.
Senator Lausche. What about the other part of the area west of the Jordan?
Secretary Rusk. I cannot speak for Israel and I am not trying to. My impression is that Israel is not too happy about the prospect of trying to annex the West Bank with a million Arabs in it. And I think they might well be ready for that not to be a part of Israel.
U.S. FUNDS FOR MIDDLE EASTERN REFUGEES
Senator Gore. Mr. Chairman, could I ask one question?
The Chairman. One last question while he is getting his papers together.
Senator Gore. I notice the President has made, according to the press, $5 million available for refugees. Is this available to the United--UNEF--or available to Jordan, or to whom is it made available?
Secretary Rusk. It would be made available to the UNRWA organization or to the relief agencies working in the governments. One of the serious things that has happened here is that a new refugee problem is being created across the Jordan. Lots of the refugees from the West Bank have been pouring out of there. We have tried to get both Jordan and Israel to keep the people in place so that we do not create this new problem. But large numbers have been moving. I think perhaps as many as 100,000 have left the West Bank across the Jordan. So we thought that on the basis of humanitarian grounds we ought to chip in something on that.
Senator Gore. We already chipped in about $400 million over a period of time.
Secretary Rusk. That is right.
Senator Gore. And we are paying 60 percent. Will our $5 million be matched by any other member of the United Nations?
Secretary Rusk. I think, sir, that you will find that that $5 million will be more than matched by the time the other contributions that we know are underway get there. I mean a lot of people are sending in things. It is urgent. As a matter of fact, some of the Arab governments have more than matched the $5 million and help to Jordan in this situation, but I have to get the details. I am not familiar with the details.
ISRAELI RELIEF EFFORTS
Senator Lausche. Are there any more of the Arab troops in Gaza or out in the desert who have not been brought in?
Secretary Rusk. You mean from the point of view of relief suffering and that sort of thing?
Senator Lausche. Yes, out there without food and in the sunshine and nobody seemed to be concerned about them.
Secretary Rusk. The Israeli armed forces--we went into that very hard because we had planes standing by that could drop food and water to these people. We got them as far as Athens ready to go. The Israeli armed forces and the Egyptian Red Cross put together joint teams, too, and used a lot of helicopters and things of that sort to scour over the desert. The problem turned out to be not half as large as it was feared, and when Nasser opened up the water under the canal to make water available in that part of the Sinai, it went a long way toward relieving that problem, so I would think that is reasonably under control.
Senator Lausche. All right.
Secretary Rusk. Mr. Chairman, I am sorry I have to run.
The Chairman. Gentlemen, in view of the situation on the floor, I do not think we can have a meeting this afternoon. There will be a meeting in the morning now on the Panama Canal. Everybody knows that.
PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT ON JERUSALEM
Secretary Rusk. You might wish Mr. Macomber to inform you of a statement the President just made on Jerusalem.
The Chairman. Okay.
Mr. Macomber. It was just put out. There are two key sentences in it. First of all, he talks about the importance of this city to the three great religions. But the two operative statements just released from the White House, the two key sentences are, one, ``First of all we assume that before any unilateral action is taken on the status of Jerusalem there will be appropriate consultations with religious leaders and others who are deeply concerned.''
And then later in the statement the President in talking about the need for a fair solution says, ``That,'' meaning the fair solution, ``could not be achieved by hasty unilateral action, and the President is confident that the wisdom of good judgment on the part of those who are immediately involved will prevent this.''
This is a statement which the press secretary put out in the White House on behalf of the President just about five minutes ago.
[Whereupon, at 11:55, the committee recessed, to reconvene at 10 a.m., Thursday, June 29, 1967.]
Sources: Federation of American Scientists