JERUSALEM (Sep. 8)
Foreign Minister Abba Eban said yesterday that the United States could be counted on to supply Israel with the weapons necessary for its security if the arms balance in the Middle East turns against Israel. Mr. Eban spoke on a television and radio interview in connection with the delivery to Israel of the first consignment of F-4 supersonic Phantom jets purchased from the U.S.
One of the new Phantoms made its maiden flight over Tel Aviv and other cities yesterday, reportedly with the commander in chief of Israel’s Air Force, Gen. Mordecai Hod, in the co-pilot’s seat.
Mr. Eban said the supply of the Phantoms to Israel did not relieve France of its obligation to deliver the 50 Mirage V supersonic jets bought and paid for in full by Israel but embargoed by order of former President Charles de Gaulle. The Foreign Minister said that when Israel negotiated with the U.S. for the purchase of 50 Phantoms it expected to receive the Mirages as well.
Mr. Eban said he thought there was some truth to rumors that the Soviet Union had tried to pressure Washington into delaying the delivery of the Phantoms. However, he said, it has been U.S. policy for years to supply Israel with arms in keeping with its security needs.