WASHINGTON (Oct. 17)
The State Department indicated today that Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban is seeking an appointment with Secretary of State Dean Rusk to enter pending negotiations on the sale of Phantom jet fighter-bombers to Israel. Department officials said that Mr. Rusk had intended to open negotiations with Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Itzhak Rabin, but now has information that Mr. Eban wants to enter the talks. The Department said last week that Mr. Rusk would probably meet this week with Mr. Rabin to discuss arrangements for negotiations. The meeting had not taken place as of today. Earlier this week, the Department said that Mr. Rusk had a heavy schedule and that the talks probably would not be able to begin until next week. Mr. Eban expects to see President Johnson if he goes to Washington.
Defense Department sources reported however that Mr. Rusk would like to defer negotiations until a new Administration is elected. Then a “new look” would involve broader diplomatic objectives, including such matters as Israeli policy on occupied territories and adherence to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the sources said.
Meanwhile, Col. Robert S. Allen, syndicated columnist who frequently writes on military matters, said Thursday there were “obvious stalling maneuvers” now evident in the State Department on the Phantom negotiations. Col. Allen, who has contact with top military officers who favor the transaction, charged that Mr. Rusk is using evasive maneuvers. He said “there is actually nothing to negotiate” because Israel knows the price and is willing to pay. He said that “politics had a lot to do with the President’s gesture.” He noted that “all three Presidential candidates have strongly advocated sale of the Phantoms to Israel.”