WASHINGTON (May. 21)
Sen. Hugh Scott, the Republican Senate Minority leader, said today that the sale of more jets to Israel was being held up because President Nixon was using them as a “bargaining point” in the Strategic Arms Limitation talks (SALT) with the Soviet Union in Vienna. He said the talks now seemed to have a 50-50 chance of success and credited the improvement to the delay in selling additional Jets to Israel. The Pennsylvania Republican spoke at the second plenary session of the American Jewish Congress’ national biennial convention here. He spoke informally and extemporaneously when he told his audience that President Nixon had referred to Israel as a “client of the U.S. in the same way that Egypt is a client of the Russians.” Continuing, Sen. Scott said, “Eban (Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban) doesn’t like that. He thinks it’s condescending. But it is okay to be condescended to a little if you get the planes.”
According to the Senator Israel will get the planes. “In the past I have had a pretty good batting average,” he said, adding that he guaranteed that “there will be jets on long term credit for Israel.” At one point he told his audience, “I have given you no oratory, just conversation to bring you up to date. You trust me and I trust you.” Sen. Scott was scheduled to meet privately with Foreign Minister Eban today after they lunch with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mr. Eban met with Secretary of State William P. Rogers and other State Department officials yesterday to argue Israel’s case for more Jets on the grounds that growing Soviet military involvement in Egypt shifted the balance of power and posed a serious threat to Israel and Western interests. Sources here said Department officials were “hesitant” in accepting Mr. Eban’s argument. While Secretary Rogers and other top policy-makers were said to concur in large degree with Israel’s estimate of the situation, they are not convinced that the proposed sale of more Phantom Jets to Israel was the most effective response.