WASHINGTON (Mar. 11)
The State Department indicated today that the U.S. Government does not intend to supply Israel with Nike anti-aircraft missiles. A report published in the press here this week-end said that the Joint Chiefs of Staff favor the selling of such missiles to Israel, but that the final decision had been left to the State Department. The Nike missile is a purely defensive weapon sought by Israel in this country to counter the Soviet jet bombers received by Egypt.
Israel Ambassador Abba Eban sought clarification during the week-end from Robert D. Murphy, Deputy Under Secretary of State, on the intent of President Eisenhower’s recent statement that arms sales to Israel would not insure Middle East peace because of Arab-Israel population differences. The Ambassador said he drew Mr. Murphy’s attention to Mr. Eisenhower’s statement of Nov. 9, 1955 in which the President said that the U.S. would consider Israel’s arms request. The Ambassador said he inquired if this statement by President Eisenhower still stood or whether the recent statement nullified it.
Asked if the conversation with Mr. Murphy seemed favorable to Israel, Mr. Eban said that his impression was that there is no intention to change the policy of the November 9 statement but that he did not want to comment for Mr. Murphy. He said that the people of Israel have a “deep-rooted faith” in President Eisenhower. He stressed Israel’s continual feeling of “deep and profound” concern in the light of U.S. inaction on Israel’s arms request.
Mr. Eban engaged in a verbal duel today with Syrian Ambassador Farid Zeineddine on an NBC television program called “Youth Wants to Know” during which four foreign students in this country–two Israelis and two Arabs–questioned the Ambassadors. Mr. Eban appeared in full view of the television audience separated from the Syrian Ambassador by a specially constructed partition demanded by Mr. Zeineddine as a precondition for his appearance on the same program with the Israeli Ambassador. Mr. Eban commented on this “blockade” and its meaning in terms of Arab “hatred” and opposition to peace.