WASHINGTON (Jun. 7)
Secretary of State William P. Rogers indicated today that Israel would get some of the Phantom and Skyhawk jets it has asked for. Mr. Rogers, appearing on the CBS television program “Meet The Press” said a decision on the sale of more jet fighters to Israel would be announced very soon–“before a few weeks.” Asked if a decision has already been made and was being withheld until the manner and timing of the announcement was decided, Mr. Rogers replied, “I wouldn’t want to say that exactly.” At the same time, Newsweek magazine reported today that Mr. Rogers will announce shortly that Israel is to get about 15 Phantoms and 50 Skyhawks, supposedly as replacements for aircraft lost in combat over the Suez Canal zone. Newsweek reported that “for weeks, the U.S. State Department tried to sell Israel on making this replacement deal in private. Israel, however, appears to have won in its insistence on a public commitment.” Israel has asked the United States to sell it 25 more Phantoms and about 100 Skyhawks.
Mr. Rogers, in his television remarks, indicated that the United States was following a policy of reassuring Israel while trying not to alienate the Arab world in the matter of the jet sales. “What we want to do is make it clear to Israel that our policy has not changed,” he said. “It’s in our best interest to be sure that Israel survives as a nation. That’s been our policy and it will continue to be our policy. So we have to take whatever action we think is necessary to give the assurances that they need that their independence and sovereignty is going to be continued.” Mr. Rogers told the newsmen. “At the same time,” he said, “we want to do it in a balanced and measured way so that we don’t signal to the Arabs that we are so behind Israel that we’ll support them no matter what they do. The reason for that is that we want to keep the door open for negotiations. We’re going to do everything we can in the next few weeks to try to get negotiations started,” the Secretary of State said. A State Department spokesman said last Friday that its reappraisal of the Middle East balance of power has been virtually completed. The reappraisal was ordered by President Nixon in April when the presence of Soviet pilots and SAM-3 anti-aircraft missiles in Egypt was confirmed.