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Eshkol Warns Phantoms from U.S. Will Not Redress Mideast Arms Imbalance

Premier Levi Eshkol said here yesterday that even with the receipt of the 50 F-4 Phantom jets which the United States has agreed to sell to Israel, “we are far removed from a true arms balance.” He expressed satisfaction over the State Department announcement Friday of completion of the agreement and said it fulfilled “President Johnson’s words to me during our meeting at the President’s ranch in Texas last January.” The agreement calls for the start of delivery of the supersonic fighter-bombers starting in 1969 and to be completed in 1970.

However, Mr. Eshkol said, the Soviet Union was “still supplying vast quantities of modern weapons to Israel’s enemies” and Israel’s defense and maintenance of peace “necessitate and compel us” to acquire more weapons at “tremendous” cost. The Phantom transaction reportedly involves at least $200 million.