Israel Sees Johnson B’nai B’rith Speech As Reaffirming Support of Israel

Foreign Ministry sources indicated here today a belief that President Johnson had reaffirmed, in his Tuesday night address to the B’nai B’rith convention in Washington, United States support of Israel’s security. The sources maintained that the President had simply re-iterated American policy as outlined by him in his five-point declaration of June 19, 1967 and subsequently repeated in various official statements.

Referring to the President’s remarks on the Middle East arms balance — “we have exercised restraint, while recognizing the legitimate defense needs of friendly governments.. We have no intention of allowing the balance of forces in the area ever to become an incentive for war” — the sources said it was clear that Mr. Johnson was reserving the right to make his own decisions in his own time, adding that Israel’s views on the urgency of getting U.S. Phantom jets were well known in Washington.

(Secretary of State Dean Rusk reportedly told a closed meeting of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday that Israel’s military establishment was. in effect, unready to absorb the Phantoms. it was learned yesterday from authoritative Washington sources. Mr. Rusk also said he saw no crisis requiring immediate action on the Phantoms and that a production problem existed because the supersonic jets were used in large numbers in Viet Nam. In response to questions, he was understood to have indicated that Israel might eventually obtain the Phantoms but gave the impression this would not happen in the near future.)

Two Syrian newspapers assailed today the Johnson speech for taking the “Zionist line.” The papers were particularly incensed by what they interpreted as Mr. Johnson’s stand that Jerusalem remain in Israeli hands and that there should be no Israeli withdrawal to the pre-June, 1967 armistice lines.

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