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Senate Committee Adopts Amendment Authorizing Aircraft, Associated Equipment for Israel

The Senate Armed Services Committee, in a surprise move late yesterday afternoon, adopted an amendment to the Defense Procurement Act that would authorize aircraft and “associated equipment” for Israel immediately to counter threatening Soviet action. The amendment, made by Sen. Henry M. Jackson, Democrat of Washington, said: “The Congress views with grave concern the deepening involvement of the Soviet Union in the Middle East and the clear and present danger to world peace resulting from such involvement which cannot be ignored by the United States. In order to restore and maintain the military balance in the Middle East, by furnishing to Israel the means of providing for its own security, the President is authorized to transfer to Israel, by sale, credit sale or guaranty, such aircraft, as may be necessary to counteract any past, present or future increased military assistance provided to other countries of the Middle East. Any such sale, credit sale, or guaranty shall be made on terms and conditions not less favorable than those extended to other countries which receive the same or similar types of aircraft and equipment.”

While not extending the administration’s powers, the amendment makes very clear the position of the Congress on jets for Israel. It would have the effect of committing Congress to support of Israel with planes and related equipment by writing this support into law. This would mean that Congress would have to pass a law repealing this law before it could take an official position against Israel. The bill has the further effect of allowing the President leeway to give planes and equipment to Israel rather than selling it. There are other countries, such as Turkey and Vietnam which receive direct military aid with no repayment provisions. This bill would allow the President to extend the same aid to Israel. Last Friday the Senate turned down two amendments that would have impeded arms sales to Israel. One of them, calling for an end to the $600 million in the Foreign Military Sales Act for credit sales of U.S. arms abroad, was defeated 56-6. The Senate also voted 50-1 not to remove language from the bill urging the President to make credits available to Israel if he decides it needs arms help.

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