WASHINGTON (Feb. 12)
Pro-Israel circles here today expressed serious concern over the fact that the State Department is stalling on granting permission to Israel to acquire arms in this country immediately in order to prevent a possible Egyptian surprise attack on the Jewish State with bombers obtained from Soviet countries.
Disappointment was especially expressed over the fact that Secretary of State John Foster Dulles apparently did not react to the urgent personal appeal made to him on Friday by Israel Ambassador Abba Eban for swift action on Israel’s request for $50,000,000 worth of American arms. It was predicted here that Mr. Dulles may not act for at least another six weeks.
Pro-Israel circles here feel that delay by the United States in selling arms to Israel is not objectively justified and that, if the State Department were sincerely devoted to preserving Israel, it would prevent avoidable vulnerability of the State to Egyptian jet plane attack. The most urgent matter, in the view of Israel diplomats, is the growing preponderance of offensive Egyptian air strength while the United States continues to refuse to sell Israel a single item of military equipment requested.
A fear exists that, even if some really effective tripartite machinery were devised, Israel might be struck a devastating air blow before such apparatus might begin to function. Pro-Israel circles here see the future possibility of some international under taking in the Middle East as no reason to withhold legitimate self-defense weapons, when such equipment is pouring into Egypt from the Communist bloc.
Following his call on Secretary Dulles last Friday, Mr. Eban stated that he visited the Secretary of State “for the sole purpose of emphasizing Israel’s strong hope for early action on its request for arms.” In that context, Mr. Eban said, a broader discussion of Israel’s security situation took place. The Israel Ambassador stressed that “the first element” in Israel thinking was the necessity of acquiring weapons. The tripartite talks on Middle East security were described by him as of “marginal interest in relation to the arms issue. “Every week that passes without action on the arms application increases our sense of apprehension,” Mr. Eban emphasized.
REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMEN MODIFY STAND ON ARMS URGENCY
Meanwhile, Republican Congressmen who last week urged immediate shipment of arms to Israel, today modified their stand on the urgency of Israel’s need for arms. Rep Hugh Scott R. Penn.), supporting Secretary Dulles position, agreed that additional time is needed to test alternative ways, outside of arms shipments, of bringing peace to the Arab-Israel area. He said Mr. Dulles, in a recent talk with several Republican members of Congress, suggested, among other approaches to bring peace to the area, the implementation of the Tripartite Pact, the guaranty of existing frontiers, and the increase in the number of persons engaged in neutral patrols along the Arab-Israel border.
The Republican Congressman declared the State Department feels that there are better solutions to the Middle East crisis than selling arms to Israel at this time. The Department says that “something can be done within the near future, Mr. Scott said. “We say if that cannot be done,” he added, “then at the very least there should be arms (to Israel) at that time.” Rep, Scott described this as the position the Republican Congressmen who support arms to Israel will maintain toward the State Department.
Rep. Kenneth B. Keating, Republican, from New York, said that Mr. Dulles was not ruling out the necessity of arms to Israel, and that Israel’s request would be “seriously reconsidered” at that time when present negotiations warranted it. Rep. Emanuel Geller, a Democrat, emphasizing Israel’s immediate need for arms, said that a declaration of any kind would not save Israel if Egypt would suddenly attack. He said it is Israel’s need for arms that must be considered immediately.
President Eisenhower conferred this week-end with Eric Johnston on the American plan for Arab-Israel water cooperation. In the course of last week’s Tripartite conference; the State Department told the British and French ambassadors that the most immediate danger of Middle Eastern conflict arises from a reported Israel plan to resume operations on Jordan River waters, at Bnot Yaacov, site of the disputed project which is located in the Israel demilitarized zone adjacent to Syria. The State Department fears that Israel activity at Bnot Yaacov may provoke Syrian military measures, igniting a conflict.