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Report Eshkol Will Ask Johnson to Sell Israel 50 Phantom Fighter-bombers

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Government sources refused today to discuss reports from abroad that Prime Minister Levi Eshkol would ask President Johnson to sell Israel 50 supersonic Phantom jet fighter-bombers. Mr. Eshkol is coming to the United States in February to inaugurate the 1968 Israel Bond campaign and will be a guest of President Johnson at Blair House for two days of talks on questions of mutual concern.

Israel has a great need for the American craft in view of the continuing embargo on shipments to Israel of the French-built Mirage V fighter-bomber which is the backbone of the Israel Air Force. Gen. de Gaulle’s continued refusal to release the planes that Israel had bought in France and partially paid for, while, reportedly, permitting Iraq to acquire the planes, has intensified the need for Israel to secure an alternative source of equipment.

(In Washington, Sen. Jacob K. Javits, N.Y. Rep., told the senate today that the United States should assume the responsibility for replacing France as prime source of arms for Israel. He said that “it seems clear that President de Gaulle is determined to close off this source despite the prevailing sentiments to the contrary of his own countrymen” and that, therefore, “the United States in all likelihood will have to become the prime source of Israel’s security needs.” He said it would be “a pure case of irresponsibility if we did not do so.”)

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