WASHINGTON (Jun. 27)
The Administration has secretly disclosed to the House Foreign Affairs Committee that a program has been drafted for military assistance to a number of Arab states in fiscal 1969 but the sale of Phantom jet fighter-bombers to Israel is not included.
This was learned today following a closed meeting of the Committee with a representative of the Defense Department, Assistant Secretary Paul C. Warnke. Rep. William Broomfield, Michigan Republican, a Committee member who visited Israel after the Six-Day War, charged that the Administration is “dragging its feet” on the Phantom transaction.
Rep. Broomfield urged that before more U.S. arms are provided to Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Iran, action should be taken to correct the present imbalance in air power, dangerous to Israel, and brought about by the massive Soviet resupply of weapons to radical Arab states.
The Michigan Congressman challenged the Defense Department official to explain why six months have elapsed since President Johnson and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol met at the LBJ ranch with no indication of concern here about Israel’s urgent need for the Phantom jets. Mr. Warnke said the decision had to be made on a level higher than the Defense Department, suggesting that it rested entirely with Mr. Johnson.
Mr. Warnke sought to some extent to minimize Israel’s need for the Phantoms, it was learned. Rep. Broomfield questioned the wisdom of programing more modern arms for Jordan at a time when Jordanians were firing across the cease-fire line into Israel.
After the meeting adjourned, Mr. Broomfield announced that he would introduce a new resolution in the House calling on the Administration to take prompt action on the Israeli application for Phantoms. He said “The Russians have sent over 300 ultra-modern Jet fighters and bombers to Egypt in the last 12 months, but the Administration has not responded to Israel’s urgent appeal for the Phantoms. These planes should be sold immediately and not held back until October or November, as has been speculated. Even if the transaction were announced by the White House on Nov. l, it would still take until 1970 before the planes could be manufactured and delivered. Further delay would indicate a lack of true concern for the fate of Israel and the national security interests of the United States.”