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Israel Decides to Secure Arms to Offset Egyptian Acquisitions

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The Israel Cabinet decided today to acquire whatever arms are needed to maintain a balance of armaments with Egypt, which last week announced that it was obtaining arms from Czechoslovakia in a “munitions for cotton” swap. The Cabinet decision was hammered out at a two-hour extraordinary meeting of the Cabinet called to deal specifically with the question of Egyptian arms acquisition.

Premier Moshe Sharett reported on the various developments in the arms situation, including the steps taken by Israel in relation to the Big Powers to insure Israel’s security. The Cabinet, in a communique issued after the meeting, expressed deep concern about the anticipated boost in Egypt’s weapons stores and underlined its belief that if the present gap between Israel’s armament and Egypt’s deepened, Egypt would be encouraged to new aggression.

The communique stated that during the Cabinet meeting Egyptian Premier Nasser’s statements that Israel had obtained huge supplies of arms were denied as being “devoid of foundation.” It was stressed that Egypt’s arms budget alone was three times as great as Israel’s and that the figures presented by the Egyptian Premier were exaggerated out of all proportion.

(Addressing newly commissioned officers of the Egyptian armed forces, Premier Nasser said that Egyptian intelligence had intercepted a French document listing large arms purchases by Israel from Britain and the United States including: 97 aircraft–jet fighters, bombers and transports; 100 Sherman tanks; 100 armored cars; 15 Churchill tanks; 100 pieces of heavy artillery and 70 field pieces. The French Embassy in Cairo said it knew nothing concerning such a document and the British Foreign Office and War Department refused to comment on Col. Nasser’s charges.)

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