WASHINGTON (Feb. 17)
President Eisenhower today rejected the idea of United States arms sales to Israel even though he acknowledged that Soviet-bloc arms were arriving in some Arab states. He also indicated dismissal of the idea of a possible American-Israel mutual security pact.
Mr. Eisenhower told his press conference that the United States, as a matter of policy, never served as a major supplier of arms to Israel and does not intend to assume such a role now for Israel or any other country in that area.
Acknowledging that certain Arab states were receiving Communist arms, Mr. Eisenhower pointed out that Israel was being supplied with military equipment by France and Great Britain.
Mr. Eisenhower said he would be “frank” in stating that the United States was sending enough arms to enough nations and that he would let somebody else carry that responsibility regarding Israel.
He said he was unfamiliar with a recent suggestion by Senator Jacob K. Javits, New York Republican, that a mutual security treaty be negotiated to link America with Israel in defense. He added, however, that he had heard the same idea discussed many times before.
He indicated dismissal of such a defense treaty, stating he told the United Nations the United States would deal with the Arab states and Israel as a unit for economic development assistance if the Arabs and Israel could agree. If such agreement could be reached, the United States still stands ready to support and coordinate a policy of regional development assistance, he declared.
SAYS HE IS UNAWARE OF NAVY’S POLICY AIDING ANTI-ISRAEL BOYCOTT
The President said he is unaware of any United States Navy policy on ship charters that might tend to discriminate against ships trading with Israel. He indicated that would be contrary to American policy.
Commenting on the current status of the Suez Canal impasse involving Israel and the United Arab Republic, Mr. Eisenhower recalled his 1957 statement that if operation of the canal was unfair, this should cause action by the United Nations.
He said he believed that the Suez Canal matter had been handled by the United Nations. His reference was presumed to be to the recent efforts of United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold to resolve Israel-UAR differences over the canal.
The official transcript of the questions put to the President and his reply to these questions reads as follows:
Question: Mr. President, in a speech recently, Senator Javits said that it would be in the best interests of this country to Join with Israel in a mutual defense pact. He pointed to the fact that Soviet arms and military personnel are flowing into the Middle East Arab countries, and expressed the view that a defense pact with Israel would serve as a deterrent to any Soviet-inspired or encouraged Arab military action there. In view of present tensions in the area, would you comment on Senator Javits recommendation?
The President: Well, I don’t know exactly the—as a matter of fact, I didn’t read this particular recommendation. I have heard similar ones from many people. The United States, as a matter of policy, has never been a major supplier of arms for Israel, and doesn’t intend to be nor to any other country in the area.
As a matter of fact, I went to the United Nations and, making a talk about the whole Mideast situation, said if these countries could get together in any kind of a program or plan for economic development of the whole region, the United States would be greatly interested in dealing with the whole group.
Now, with regard to the allegations of the arms the Soviets are sending in there, of course they have. We know they’ve been in that area, but Israel has also been getting arms from Britain and France for a long time and, frankly, I think we’re sending arms to enough nations, really. I think let somebody else carry a little responsibility.”
Question: Mr. President, in recent weeks, spokesmen for the Navy seem to have admitted that it discriminates against American ships in trade with Israel. In the view of critics, it does this by discouraging the owners of such ships from bidding on transportation that involves use of Arab ports, because the Arabs refuse to accommodate the vessel. The effect, these critics say, is to comply with the Arab boycott of Israel. Would you say that this was in line with our foreign policy?
The President: Certainly not within our policy. Right after the Suez incident, you recall that the United States joined in saying that if their–if the operation of the canal was not so conducted as to be fair to the traffic of all nations, that this should be a cause of action by the united group. And I believe this matter has been up in the United Nations; well, I know it has, and—well, I believe it has; put it that way. And certainly the United States has always stood for that principle. Now, I didn’t know about the incident to which you refer, and I would suggest you ask the Navy Department itself about that.”