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Newsweek Reports ‘solid Diplomatic Achievement’ for Eshkol, Gains for Johnson

Newsweek Magazine asserted today that “in sharp trading down on the ranch,” President Johnson had indicated to Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that some P-4 Phantom jet fighter bombers might be sold to Israel at a later date but that “more important was the political support that Eshkol was apparently prepared to give the President.” The magazine claimed that “in New York, a few days after the Texas meeting, Eshkol reportedly insisted to Jewish leaders, including critics of LBJ’s Vietnam policy, that what Johnson does in Vietnam is right.”

The news magazine said that Defense Secretary Robert McNamara had secretly participated in the Texas talks. The Israeli prime minister, according to Newsweek, was pressed to clarify Israel’s position on the occupied territories. It quoted President Johnson: “You are asking me to guarantee your borders–what borders do you want me to guarantee?” The President, Newsweek said, supported by Secretary of State Dean Rusk, urged Eshkol to back down on insistence of face-to-face talks with the Arabs.

The magazine asserted that “the only contractual commitment the President made was to supply Israel with 20 or so A-4 Skyhawks, an older plane than the Phantom.” It declared that “despite the imprecision of the Phantom deal, however, the talks at the ranch marked a solid diplomatic achievement for Eshkol and for Israel. But Mr. Johnson, too, emerged from the conversations with new assets.”

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