WASHINGTON (May. 2)
Secretary of State Dean Rusk, testifying today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Congressmen that the United States has not sold F-4 Phantom jets to Israel because this country is trying to limit the flow of arms to the Middle East. Rep. Leonard Farb-stein, New York Democrat, asked Mr. Rusk to explain why the United States had not agreed to sell Israel the Phantoms when the Soviet Union has supplied the Arabs with the latest sophisticated aircraft.
Mr. Rusk said that "this is a matter about which our two countries have been in contact. We ourselves do not want to see a sharp increase in the supply of arms into the area." He said that "such an increase is too dangerous." The Secretary told the Congressmen that he preferred not to comment further at a public committee hearing on the question of selling arms to Israel. He appeared before the committee to ask Congressional support for the Foreign Aid Bill and was asked by members to comment on various aspects of the world situation.
Earlier, Walt W. Rostow, White House adviser on international security, informed Rep. John J. Rhodes of Arizona, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, that President Johnson had moved no closer to approval of the sale of the Phantom plane to Israel than he had been last January when he met Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in Texas. Rep. Rhodes had urged the President to correct the altered power balance in the Middle East by sale of "fighter aircraft of a quality to enable the Israeli armed forces to compete with those of their neighbors, and other military equipment."
Meanwhile, 44 members of the House joined in co-sponsoring a proposed House resolution urging the Administration to sell the Phantom aircraft to Israel to preserve the military power balance. Additional members of both parties are adding their names daily to the list.