WASHINGTON (May. 14)
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has urged the U.S. government to “announce immediately that it will permit the sale of jets to Israel” because “Israel remains a beleaguered country and her continued progress and security as well as the prospects for general peace in the area are being jeopardized more today than ever before.” The Massachusetts Democrat made his appeal in a statement on the Senate floor late yesterday. He called for a “major United States diplomatic initiative” in the Middle East to include efforts to restore the cease-fire and make it a binding moratorium under international auspices.” Sen. Kennedy urged the U.S. to work for “An agreement among the parties concerned to establish a substantial international emergency peace-keeping force under international auspices and commensurate with the legitimate security interests of both Israel and her Arab neighbors.” Sen. Kennedy also proposed that the U.S. support a UN conference of all Middle East arms suppliers and potential suppliers to limit the arms flow into the area and declare it a nuclear-free zone. He expressed criticism of the Nixon administration’s approach to the Middle East crisis and claimed that the Soviet Union “has increased its military activities in the Middle East because of the ambivalence and weakness on the part of the administration in its general policy toward this area.”
The State Department indicated today that the Nixon administration’s re-examination of Israel’s request for more Phantom jets in light of the now developments in the Middle East has not been completed. Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey was asked at a press briefing today whether a decision would be made by the time Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban arrives in Washington next week. Mr. Eban is expected to meet with Secretary of State William P. Rogers next Wednesday. Mr. McCloskey replied that It was unlikely that the overall review, with the new factors involved, will be completed by the government by the middle of next week, According to columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, there is powerful opposition building up to the sale of jets to Israel within the administration and in the Pentagon. Writing in today’s Washington Post, the columnists said the opposition is based in part on a fear that the sale of more jets to Israel would escalate the U.S.-Soviet arms race not only in the Middle East but throughout the world. in addition, they said, the State Department is taking seriously President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s May Day warning that the supply of more U.S. aircraft to Israel would force a rupture between the U.S. and the Arab world.