WASHINGTON (Sep. 10)
President Johnson was expected to address the triennial convention of B’nai B’rith here tonight in an appearance following a secret White House meeting Monday with Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon of Israel and statements by both the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees urging sale of Phantom jets to Israel.
Mr. Johnson has deferred action on Israel’s application since last January when he met with Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in Texas. High-level U.S. sources said today that the President has not acted because he feels that a new move in the Middle East might jeopardize hopes for presidential talks with Soviet leaders on missile control and a wider detente. They said also that Mr. Johnson wanted to retain for as long as possible leverage on Israel to assure restraint.
The President agreed to see Mr. Allon late Monday, at the latter’s request, on condition that the meeting be kept secret, but word of the meeting somehow emerged and Mr. Allon confirmed today that it had taken place. Mr. Allon said he was “quite satisfied” by his half-hour talk with the President. The White House meeting involved also Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin and Minister Shlomo Argov of Israel and White House adviser Walt W. Rostow and State Department officials.
Mr. Allon was scheduled to meet today with Secretary of State Dean Rusk. A number of high officials, including Under-Secretary of State Nicholas Katzenbach, attended a luncheon for Mr. Allon tendered by Ambassador Rabin. Mr. Allon will also meet with Secretary of Labor Willard Wirtz.
Questioned on the NBC “Today” show, Mr. Allon was asked if he had gotten any assurances from government leaders here that Israel might get the Phantoms. He replied: “No comment.”
Mr. Allon deviated from a prepared text to praise President Johnson’s policies last night when he addressed the B’nai B’rith convention. He repeated this on the NBC show this morning, stating that “in 1948, when our forces penetrated into Sinai and were about to defeat the remnants of the Egyptian Army, we were forced out by the Americans from the Sinai Desert in return for intermediate arrangements which led to another war. Then came the 1956 war. And again, the American Administration put some pressure on us and demanded that we should withdraw unconditionally. Happily, this third time, the Administration was much braver; I would say even wiser, under the guidance of President Johnson, and a cease-fire has been imposed unconditionally.”
Commenting on Sunday’s artillery duel at Suez, Mr. Allon said Egypt “regained some confidence from the Czechoslovak experience, thinking that the Russians will be on their side. Therefore, they are daring now to do things which they didn’t dare, let’s say, a few months or even a few weeks ago.”