JERUSALEM (May. 22)
The official announcement this weekend of the United States agreement to sell Israel some tactical jet bombers was greeted here with deep satisfaction and gratification.
In a brief statement, the Israel Government said it considered the transaction a positive step toward maintenance of stability in the Middle East. The agreement provides the first United States supply of military aircraft to Israel. Competent observers here stressed that the agreement and the official announcement of the pact were proof of the clear and concrete intentions of the United States to preserve the balance of power in the Middle East as the key to regional peace.
Sources here said that the decision for the sale was made personally by President Johnson during a meeting with Foreign Minister Abba Eban in Washington last February. Mr. Eban also met with Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. One of the conditions which the United States attached to the transaction was a pledge of strict secrecy on the part of Israel to prevent American involvements.
EBAN REPORTS TO CABINET ON U.S. DEAL; SAYS NO CONDITIONS ATTACHED
At the weekly meeting of Israel’s Cabinet today, Mr. Eban reported about the steps leading to the plane agreement with Washington. He said the negotiations for U.S. sale of the jet bombers to Israel were first begun by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, when he visited Washington in 1964. The talks, he said, were continued by Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s ex-Foreign Minister, then by Israel’s deputy Minister of Defense, Shimon Peres, and by President Johnson’s Ambassador-at-large, Averell Harriman.
The negotiations, said Mr. Eban, were furthered by Israel’s Ambassador to Washington, Avraham Harman, and clinched by himself when he visited Washington in February of this year.
The Foreign Minister denied there were any conditions attached to the agreement with the United States Government except those required by U.S. law, requiring Israel not to use the planes for attack purposes but only for defense. The agreement, he reported, specified the manner of Israel’s payments for the aircraft and prohibits the resale of the planes by Israel without prior approval by the United States.