WASHINGTON (Jan. 23)
White House spokesman George Christian, rejected today charges by the Republican Congressional Committee that President Johnson had exerted pressure on Prime Minister Levi Eshkol of Israel to urge American Jewish political support of the President’s Vietnam policy and re-election as a condition for the sale of Phantom jet bombers.
Mr. Christian told the JTA: “Yesterday I called it ridiculous. Today I will call it buncombe.”
Rep. Edward J. Derwinsky, Illinois Rep., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called today in a speech in the House for immediate sale of the P-4 Phantom jet fighter-bombers to Israel. He warned that “our failure to act indicates to the Russians that they may brazenly fill the vacuum created by the Administration’s foreign policy ineptness.”
Despite denials from the White House and official Israeli sources that President Johnson had made sale of the planes contingent on American Jewish support of his policies, the Republican spokesman repeated the charges in his speech today and warned that “President Johnson may be playing politics with free world security” by holding the aircraft “in ransom for the votes of Americans of Jewish faith.”