WASHINGTON (Sep. 13)
Informed sources here said today that Premier Golda Meir has a meeting scheduled with President Nixon Friday at which she is expected to tell the President that Israel is firmly opposed to any return to the peace talks at the United Nations until Soviet-made SAM missiles installed illegally in the Suez Canal truce zone are removed. Mrs. Meir also is expected to express strong disagreement with views of some Nixon Administration officials who question whether the Soviet-Egyptian installations of new missiles have changed the power balance in the area. She reportedly plans to stress to President Nixon that, prior to the United States-initiated 90-day cease-fire and standstill which began last August 7, the Soviets were deterred from moving missiles toward the Canal, but not since.
Mrs. Meir’s scheduled arrival in the United States has been proceeded by a flurry of reports that the Nixon Administration has decided to make a $1 billion weapons offer as an offset to the Egyptian missile buildup and as an effort to persuade Israel to resume participation in the peace talks under Dr. Gunnar Jarring, the UN special peace emissary. Support for the reports on additional United States arms was given by Secretary of State William P. Rogers in testimony yesterday at an unusual Saturday meeting of the foreign operations subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Mr. Rogers appeared before the subcommittee in an effort to obtain Senate reversal of a $536 million House cut in an Administration request for $1.8 billion for foreign aid for fiscal 1971. He told the subcommittee that the Administration was planning to resume economic aid to Israel and to increase military assistance.
Israel has not received U.S. economic aid for some five years, purportedly because of the advanced state of its economy but Mr. Rogers said that Israeli defense purchases had created “a serious economic problem.” He said a decision on the aid would be reached “in the near future” and that “we now have under consideration economic assistance or supporting assistance for Israel.” He declined to tell the Senators how much help and of what type the Administration was considering for Israel. His disclosure that the Administration was studying a comprehensive aid program for Israel was the first time it had been made publicly.
(Confirmation of the report that the main points of Mrs. Meir’s agenda for the Nixon meeting will be the suspended Jarring talks and the removal of the illegally placed missiles came today from Jerusalem. Sources there said that Mrs. Meir also intends to renew Israel’s request, made last year, for $1 billion in economic aid. Because of vastly increased outlays for defense because of the Soviet involvement, Israel feels entitled to ask for aid of that magnitude, the sources said. Mrs. Meir will also ask for a United States guarantee against Soviet attacks, the sources added, but gave no details as to specifics of the planned request for such a guarantee.)
The report of plans for a $1 billion weapons package, on which the White House refused comment yesterday, was made by Thomas Ross, a Chicago Sun-Times correspondent in Washington, who asserted that President Nixon was expected to discuss the proposal at his meeting with Premier Meir. According to Ross, Pentagon sources said the arms package included tanks, bombs, jet planes, antiaircraft missiles and electronic detection and jamming equipment. He wrote also that the package “reportedly” included 24 additional Phantom jets, which the United States “started to deliver secretly in July.”
The correspondent quoted “reliable sources” to the effect that six additional Phantoms were shipped to Israel in July, that six more will be delivered later this month and four each in October, November and December. He said that the 24 new Phantoms will fall one short of Israel’s long-standing request for 25 additional Phantoms, as well as for 100 more Skylark jets. He asserted also that Israel was “reportedly given long-term credit” for purchase of the Phantoms and for a “secret shipment of Shrike air-to-ground missiles.”
In a related development, The New York Times reported here yesterday that a growing number of senior Administration officials had come to the conclusion that the Soviet-Egyptian missile violations had shifted the power balance in the canal zone to Israel’s disadvantage. The Times reported that to correct the new imbalance “and to improve deteriorating relations” between the Nixon Administration and Israel, the officials were studying the possibility of providing Israel with a variety of sensors and reconnaissance devices to increase Israeli capability to guard against any Egyptian military thrusts across the Suez Canal.