Eban: Israel’s Request for More Jets Being Urgently Considered by Nixon Administration

Political circles here believe the United States will act to restore the military balance in the Middle East in a manner satisfactory to Israel but without publicity and apparently without a public warning to the Soviet Union. Foreign Minister Abba Eban told newsmen on his return from the U.S. last night that Israel’s request for more American Phantom jets was being considered “with urgency” by the Nixon administration. Mr. Eban said President Nixon expressed concern over Israel’s security in their talk in Washington last week. He said he had stressed to the President and to Secretary of State William P. Rogers that it was vital to maintain the balance of power in the Mideast in order to avoid a new war. He said his talks with American leaders centered on Egypt’s repudiation of the 1967 cease-fire agreement and the increasing involvement of Soviet military personnel in Egypt. The Foreign Minister said his talks in London on his way home were along similar lines. He said that on his visit to Canada he found strong public support for Israel.

Mr. Eban went directly to Premier Golda Meir’s residence presumably to report on his talks with American officials. Mrs. Meir will deliver a political report to the Knesset tomorrow. Optimism in local political circles stems from President Nixon’s assurances that he will stand by his obligations to support Israel’s defense capabilities. Mr. Nixon has said that the balance of power in the region must not change for the sake of peace and “we shall keep this undertaking.” He is believed here to be fully aware of the imbalance created by Soviet involvement in Egypt and to favor hastening action as soon as he decides the best form American action should take. (Before his departure from Washington, Mr. Eban, declaring that his country’s survival was “the most urgent international necessity today,” warned in a television interview that a rejection of her request for more American Phantom jets would make an Arab-instigated war “absolutely inevitable.” Mr. Eban appeared yesterday on the ABC-TV program “Issues and Answers.” His interview, by correspondents Roger Peterson and John Scali, was taped Friday. Mr, Eban said if the U.S. rejected Israel’s request for more jets. Israel would have to conclude that U.S. policy was to see Israel grow “relatively weaker and weaker” and become a “helpless victim of an assault by our enemies.” Asked if the sale of more jets would not result in severe repercussions against the U.S. throughout the Arab world, Mr. Eban replied that on the contrary, the Arabs would have more “respect” for the U.S. for standing by its ally.)

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