WASHINGTON (Jul. 18)
The Republican leadership of Congress, following a policy meeting, today said a dangerous imbalance existed in the Middle East that could be corrected only by the United States supplying F-4 Phantom jet fighter-bombers to Israel. The stand of the Republican leadership on this issue was announced at a press conference by Senate minority Leader Everett M. Dirksen of Illinois, and House minority Leader Gerald Ford of Michigan.
The stand was taken with the concurrence of all the leading Republicans in the Senate and House, as well as Republican national chairman Ray C. Bliss.
The new Republican position, according to Sen. Dirksen, was that “the improved military capability of Arab nations with French and Soviet planes and weapons has created a power imbalance in the Middle East which is dangerous to peace.”
“It can be corrected only if this nation will make available suitable and necessary weapons and F-4 Phantom jet planes to Israel,” the statement said.
Responding to a question, Sen. Dirksen said that Israel had no place to obtain supersonic military jets but the United States. He said it was obvious that Russia and France were not going to supply Israel with them, and pointed out that France has refused to deliver Mirage jets that Israel had contracted. But, he said, such jets were now going to Iraq.
The Republican policy statement said, “In the Middle East, indecision alienates our friends and heartens our enemies, and Russian diplomatic and military — especially naval power — has moved into the vacuum the Administration has permitted there.”
The policy statement criticized the Administration for failing to implement a nuclear desalination program that, the Republicans said, might contribute toward stability in that area.