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U.S. Arms Sales to Jordan Discussed by Eshkol, Eban in Cabinet

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Foreign Minister Abba Eban informed the Cabinet yesterday that Israel’s envoys in the United States have voiced objections in Washington to any change in the balance of arms in the Middle East, and stressed that the balance must be restored if upset. Mr. Eban, who reported to the Cabinet on the shipments of United States arms to Jordan announced this weekend, said that details of the shipments were being examined to determine their extent.

Mr. Eban’s report, as released by the Government spokesman, was taken by observers to mean that the United States arms shipments to Jordan are viewed here as mainly of political significance and intended to bolster the strength of King Hussein. The arms, it was pointed out, would enable the Jordanian king to reject demands by other Arab states to station their forces on Jordanian soil, which would bring about a change in the status quo along Israel’s eastern border and would put Israel in the position of having to decide whether to use the “freedom of action” she reserved for herself.

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol repeated at the Cabinet meeting Israel’s stand on any change in the status quo in Jordan, which has been the Government’s position for some years. Observers pointed to Israel’s dilemma over the arms shipments: While Israel did not oppose the strengthening of King Hussein, the possibility had to be considered of a possible change in the Amman regime, which might put the arms in the hands of more extreme elements.

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