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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sessions: The World Situation

(January 16, 1967)

Situation In Israel

The Chairman. Just one other subject before you go on. I wonder about Israel. There seems to be, from this morning's press, a very dangerous situation there. Could you say a word about it?

Secretary Rusk. The issue at the present time centers along the Israeli-Syrian border. There are three elements in the problem in terms of repose in the area. One is the activities of a Fatah organization of terrorists, who we think are not directly and actively supported by any of the governments concerned. Particularly not by Jordan, who has been trying to operate against them but who use Syrian and Jordanian territory for acts of sabotage and terror over the Israeli border.

On that particular point, Jordan and Israel have greatly increased their police action on their respective sides of the border to try to deal with that activity as a police matter.

There is a more complicated matter between Israel and Syria. At the time of the armistice, Syrian forces were occupying a strip within the historical boundaries of the mandate. Under the armistice, Syrian forces withdrew from that strip under demilitarized regulations. Israel claims since this was territory within the mandate and is Israeli territory, and they claim to exercise sovereignty over the subject as to demilitarized regulations.

The Syrians claim this has never been legally established, and so you have both Israeli and Syrian farmers in this strip. Arms are fired into the area from the Syrian side typically, with response from the Israeli side. Israelis patrol on occasion in this area with their own armored vehicles, so you have a continuation of this particular kind of struggle.

Do Not Expect a Major War

I don't myself, think, sir, that this is likely to lead to a major war.

The Chairman. You do not?

Secretary Rusk. Athough--because I don't think, for example, the Syrians are particularly interested in it. We know the Israelis are not interested in a major war in this situation, but it is a very troublesome problem as to how you handle these repeated acts of terror back and forth across the border, particularly in that area.

General Bull, the head of the U.N. force out there, is trying to make some arrangement--the Arabs would say, ``Let the U.N. forces take charge in this demilitarized area and provide the police forces,'' while the Israeli and Syrian farmers go ahead with their agricultural work. As a matter of fact, farmers on both sides apparently get along pretty well until somebody from outside the demilitarized zone starts shooting in from outside the area.

But that is about the situation, Mr. Chairman. It is tense, but we don't----

The Chairman. You don't expect a major war?

Secretary Rusk. We don't expect a major war.

The Quakers in Canada

Do you know, Mr. Secretary, about a case that was sent to me involving the Quakers in Canada, that the Treasury of the United States issued a circular to all the banks in the United States directing them not to honor a check payable to the Quakers of Canada? Are you familiar with that?

Secretary Rusk. No sir; I am not. I had not heard of it before.

The Chairman. Well, it came to me with a photostat of the order, and I wondered if there is any authority for such an order from the Treasury.

Secretary Rusk. It sounds to me as though this might be one of the foreign assets control problems. If the Quakers were using these funds to send assistance to North Vietnam----

The Chairman. That is correct. Is there such authority that the Quakers--well, the Quakers state they are sending it North and South. They do this--they are not involved in this political thing. They are doing humanitarian work, and a friend sent me the letter. I don't have the letter anyway. I forgot how it went--I wrote a letter to the Treasury, but have had no response. Is that as far as you know, within the power, the authority of the Treasury?

Secretary Rusk. I would think so, sir, under the foreign assets control legislation.

Senator Hickenlooper. What kind of a check?

The Chairman. I did not send a check. Anyway this person, an American citizen, writes a check on the First National Bank of Washington, sends it to the Quakers in Canada, and the bank here is directed by the Treasury not to honor a check payable to the Quakers of Canada.

Secretary Rusk. I would have to look into the specific case because I just am not informed about it.

The Chairman. I was a little surprised that we had that authority. I thought you could donate money to the Quakers.

Secretary Rusk. I believe donations outside the United States are not income tax deductible in the usual case.

Senator Pell. That is absolutely correct.

The Chairman. Well, they are to Israel, aren't they?

Secretary Rusk. That is a legal sense, that is to the organized charities organized in this country under the laws of this country.

Sources: Federation of American Scientists