WASHINGTON (Sep. 17)
No official confirmation was forthcoming today of reports that the United States had given Israel private assurances that the scheduled delivery of two squadrons of the A-4 Skyhawk supersonic attack bomber to the Israel Air Force would be made this Autumn despite the present embargo on American arms shipments to the Middle East.
The Administration agreed to sale of the plane — one of the most advanced in use and the backbone of the U.S. Navy’s striking force in Vietnam — early in 1966 with the proviso that because of priority needs of the American services, delivery would not be made until this coming Autumn. In the meantime. as a consequence of the June war, an embargo was proclaimed on American arms shipments to the Middle East and the United States pressed for an international agreement to limit the delivery arms to that area.
The heavy flow of Soviet arms to the Arab states, including the most modern and powerful Soviet planes such as the Subhoi-7 attack bomber, has given Israel much cause for concern and led, according to reports, to inquiries in Washington as to the delivery of the Skyhawks. The New York Times, quoting Pentagon sources, said today that the Israelis had been given assurances they would receive the planes as scheduled but State Department sources insisted the embargo had not been lifted and no comment was forthcoming from Israeli sources.