Congressman Hits Delay in Delivery of Skyhawk Bombers to Israel

Rep. Donald Rumsfeld, Illinois Republican, deplored, in a House speech today, what he described as delays by the United States in fulfilling a contract to deliver the Douglas Skyhawk jet attack bombers which Israel purchased early last year. He suggested that the delay “might be based on a desire to exert pressure on the Israelis to withdraw from territories won in battle.”

The Illinois Republican warned that “continued U.S. refusal to honor commitments regarding jet aircraft for Israel could lead to another miscalculation by the Arab states” and a renewal of warfare in the area.

Two members of the Upper House, Senators Joseph Montoya of New Mexico and Ernest Gruening of Alaska, both Democrats, expressed concern in Senate speeches today over American Middle East policy. The New Mexican warned against American participation in a combined Soviet-Arab drive against Israel in the United Nations. Americans, he said, would not stand for a betrayal of Israel. He called for direct Arab-Israeli negotiations.

Sen. Gruening charged that efforts were being made here “by some who should know better,” to persuade “and even coerce” Israel into giving up its territorial gains without any reciprocal assurances of protection.

Rep. Rumsfeld told the House that Israel had made “partial payment” on the Skyhawks and asked: “How can the Administration possibly justify what appears to be a decision to hold back on the delivery of jets to the Israelis? How can the United States refuse to fulfill its contract on which partial payment has already been made?”

Israel contracted for two squadrons of the supersonic attack bomber, one of the most effective weapons in the American arsenal, early in 1966 with delivery scheduled for the Autumn of 1967. Last week the State Department and Department of Defense both asserted that there had been no decision on lifting the embargo on arms shipments to the Middle East invoked last June and that the question of permitting shipments was “under review.”

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