WASHINGTON (Jun. 16)
The Nixon administration’s decision on the sale of more jets to Israel will be announced by Secretary of State William P. Rogers at a press conference to be held here, possibly next week. Informed sources said today. The State Department announced at a briefing today that Mr. Rogers would hold the press conference some time prior to his departure on a fact-finding tour of the Far East. It did not announce the date of the press conference or indicate what announcements might be made. However. Mr. Rogers is scheduled to leave for Asia on or about June 26 and it is believed he will meet the press several days earlier. It is also generally believed that he will use his press conference as the occasion for announcing the decision on Israel’s request to buy 25 Phantom and 100 Skyhawk jets. According to most’ observers the decision has already been made and would have been announced but for the crisis that erupted in Jordan last week. Sources here said the administration felt it would be inopportune to announce the sale of more Jets to Israel at a time when the future of Jordan’s pro-Western King Hussein is in doubt. The State Department was said to be closely following events in Jordan where Palestinian guerrillas appear to have gained the upper hand in their efforts to obtain complete freedom of action for forays against Israel.
Sources close to the Israel Embassy here said the Israel government also felt that an announcement of jet sales should not be made until the situation in Jordan stabilizes. There was reportedly a feeling in Jerusalem that a positive announcement by Nixon would serve to solidify the splintered guerrilla movement and strengthen its more extremist elements. But there was no indication here why American or Israeli officials think the situation in Jordan will be clearer a week from now than it is today. All reports from Amman imply that King Hussein has been virtually stripped of his authority by last week’s events and remains on the throne only at the will of the guerrillas.
Most informed sources here believe the Nixon administration has decided to sell more jets to Israel but not in the quantity Israel has requested. The sources say that to maintain a balance in the Mideast and to re-assure Arab regimes of American good-will, Israel will be provided only with sufficient jets to make up for its combat losses. Meanwhile the State Department is continuing its efforts to reach some kind of understanding with the Russians. U.S. Ambassador Jacob Beam was recalled from Moscow last week for what were described as routine consultations. He conferred at the State Department last Wednesday and is expected to return to Moscow on Saturday. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Joseph J. Sisco will meet again this week with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin in their continuing talks on the Mideast.