Republican presidential candidate John B. Connally's plan for use of U.S. troops to enforce a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement came under attack yesterday on Capitol Hill and from leaders of the American-Jewish community.
Senate Minority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.), also an aspirant for the GOP presidential nomination, criticized as undesirable and imprudent Connally's proposal, made Thursday, to link the future of Israel's security with the creation of a Palestinian state and a guaranteed supply of oil to the West, all to be enforced by a U.S. military presence in the Middle East.
In a Senate speech, Baker said, "A comprehensive peace settlement cannot be promoted by the interrelationship between the price and availability of oil and the creation of an independent Palestinian state . . . I do not believe that Israel should ever be used as a pawn or that the United States should use her strength or force to intimidate any nation to accept any particular point of view."
Unlike Connally, Baker defended the Camp David accords which, under President Carter's mediation, produced the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Baker also praised Carter for pursuing a steady and patient course of step-by-step diplomacy.
"I don't think the proposal made by Gov. Connally was a careful, prudent or desirable foreign policy formulation for this country," Baker said.
Rep. John Anderson (R-Ill.), also an announced presidential candidate, call Connally's Mideast proposals "dangerous and irresponsible."
"They display shocking insensitivity to history and a cavalier disregard for the substantial progress recently made in that troubled region," he said.
Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, reacted by saying: "Mr. Connally graciously has given his consent to Israel's existence. At the same time, he denies Israel the right to defend itself against aggression. His proposal that Israel return to the 1967 borders is a formula for Israel's liquidation. His ideas effectively remove him from the roster of those who merit serious consideration for the presidency."
Henry Siegman, executive director of the American-Jewish Congress, said, "Mr. Connally gives encouragement to the Arab confrontation states who urge a violent solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is disappointing, although perhaps not surprising, that Mr. Connally should emerge as the candidate of the oil interests. His approach to the complex problems of the Middle East does not inspire confidence in either his statesmanship or his moral sensibilities.