Menu JTA Search

Allon Tells Knesset That U.S. Would Come to Israel’s Aid if Russians Intervene

Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon declared today that if the Soviet Union were to intervene militarily in a battle between Israel and the Arab states, “Israel would not be alone.” He said the United States had made that clear to the Russians via the “hot line” at the time of the June, 1967 Six-Day War and called it “one of the most important decisions ever taken by an American President.” Mr. Allon made his remarks in the Knesset (Parliament) in reply to an agenda motion submitted by Uri Avneri of the Haolam Hazeh faction. He spoke on behalf of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol who is still ill with a virus infection.

The Deputy Prime Minister said that Israel should not take the possibility of Soviet intervention lightly, but there is no evidence that the Russians are considering direct military intervention or any indications that they plan to reopen the Suez Canal by force. He said that contrary to many press reports, there was no evidence either that Soviet technicians or advisers had taken part in last Saturday’s Egyptian artillery barrage across the Suez Canal. He said he regretted reports to the contrary.

(United Press International correspondent K. C. Thaler reported from London today that Communist diplomats there hinted strongly that the Soviet Union may force reopening of the canal. Mr. Thaler said signs were mounting that Russia wants the canal opened as a route to the Indian Ocean and North Vietnam and may push the issue by inducing Egypt to use force, backing such an operation with the massive Russian naval force in the Mediterranean.)

Mr Allon referred to “global forces friendly to Israel” that are opposed to having the status quo in the Middle East altered by force. He said the U.S., in addition, has given a moral undertaking to keep the balance of armaments in the area. “The Skyhawks keep arriving and the Phantoms have appeared on the horizon,” he said.

Mr. Allon took up the substance of Mr. Avneri’s motion which concerned the possibility of Soviet military intervention. He said the Russians have in the past always been careful to confine direct intervention to the Warsaw Treaty countries and that Czechoslovakia cannot be taken as a precedent regarding Israel. He said the Russian fleet in the Mediterranean numbers more than 40 vessels of all types. including 25 modern warships, In addition, there is a squadron of TU-16 bombers based in Egypt which are piloted by Soviet flyers and operate under the direct command of Soviet military headquarters in Moscow, and there are about 3,000 Soviet experts in Egypt and about 1,000 in Syria, he said. But, Mr. Allon went on, these forces are vastly outnumbered by the U.S. Sixth Fleet. “If they were to become involved in a war they would be a death trap because they have no air cover and the Dardanelles Straits are in NATO hands and would be closed to Soviet vessels in the event of war.”

Mr. Allon observed that the reopening of the Suez Canal by force would be much more difficult that opening it by agreement. “There is sand and silt and physical obstacles that have been submerged since the Six-Day War,” he said. He said that after 16 months since the war, the Soviet Union should realize that Israel has always desired good relations with it and is willing to resume diplomatic ties at any moment. Any deterioration in relations between Israel and Russia was the Soviets’ fault. Mr. Allon said.

NEXT STORY