Menu JTA Search

Humphrey Urges Sale of Jets to Israel, but Does Not Say if He Means Phantoms

Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey today called for “continued U.S. military assistance, including jet planes, to Israel” but the kind of planes he had in mind was left up in the air. Staff aides to the candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination could not say whether Mr. Humphrey was referring to the supersonic F-4 Phantom jets that Israel formally requested six months ago or the subsonic Skyhawks previously sold to Israel.

Last January, Israel’s Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, meeting with President Johnson at the LBJ Ranch in Texas, requested 50 Phantom fighter-bombers, fastest and most modern warplane in the American arsenal. Israel claims it needs the Phantoms to balance the ultra-modern jets supplied in large numbers by Soviet Russia to Egypt and Syria. The Administration sold the older and slower Skyhawks to Israel but has delayed action on Israel’s application for the Phantoms. Mr. Humphrey’s statement today shed no new light on his stand regarding the Phantoms.

The Vice President said that American military aid to Israel is justified “until permanent peace is achieved and the arms race is ended.” He stressed that “the real answer lies in agreed disarmament” and supported active U.S. diplomatic efforts to gain a “general settlement.” “The cause of peace will not be served by the pursuit of military preponderance by Arab states through arms deliveries from the Soviet Union,” Mr. Humphrey said.

He recalled that he had enthusiastically supported the creation of Israel on moral and political grounds, and said that the grounds of a permanent Middle East peace are the acceptance of Israel by its Arab neighbors, the transformation of truce lines into “agreed and secure boundaries,” Israeli navigation rights in the Suez Canal and Gulf of Aqaba, an end to the arms race, and international assistance to help solve the Arab refugee problem.

MURPHY URGES HUMPHREY TO CLARIFY HIS POSITION ON JETS

Senator George Murphy, California Republican, today called on Mr. Humphrey to clarify his statement on the jets. In a speech on the Senate floor. Mr. Murphy announced he is circulating a resolution calling on the Administration to provide supersonic jet aircraft to Israel. The Senator wondered whether the Vice-President was feeling “a bit uncomfortable” about the Administration’s “rather poor record on the Middle East.”

Sen. Murphy said, “To date the U.S. has only agreed to provide subsonic A-4 Skyhawks to Israel, so if the Vice-President wants to continue current Administration arms policies, his position also may be totally inadequate. However, the Vice-President avoided mentioning what kind of jet fighters he wants to sell Israel. If he is talking about supersonic F-4 Phantoms, he is breaking with current Administration policy and he should say so emphatically.”

The Senator was also critical “of people who believe that the Administration’s decision to supply additional batteries of Hawk missiles to Israel can possibly offset the more than $250,000,000 worth of new Soviet arms rushed to the Middle East since last year’s Arab-Israeli war.”

NEXT STORY