WASHINGTON (Jun. 7)
Terming the new Soviet-Egyptian 15 year treaty of friendship and cooperation the “most serious development in the Middle East since the Six-Day War,” Sen. Richard S. Schweiker urged the U.S. government today to respond promptly to Israel’s latest request for more armaments, particularly combat aircraft. The Pennsylvania Republican, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed concern over the State Department’s lack of response so far to Israel’s request for more aircraft. Speaking at a press conference, Schweiker said that in light of the Soviet-Egyptian pact “the burden of proof rests on the U.S. to show where we stand on the Middle East. Inaction at this time would be inopportune and could be a sign of weakness detrimental to our interests.” The Sen. said that the supply of additional aircraft to Israel would be a “minimal investment for high returns in terms of America’s strategic interests.” Not to give more military aid to Israel, he warned, would encourage a war situation.
Schweiker, who returned from a visit to Israel last week said all the aircraft contracted for by Israel so far, including supersonic Phantom F-4s and subsonic Skyhawk A-4s have been delivered. Two months ago, he went on, Israel submitted a request for additional planes but the State Department has not responded. Schweiker said he sent a letter to Secretary of State William P. Rogers asking for a report on the military situation in the Middle East and an explanation of the U.S. government’s “apparent failure to make any response to the new Israeli request for military aid.” The Senator said that Rogers’ reply would be “an indication of what administration policy would be.” Schweiker said the specifics of Israel’s aid request were classified. He said he thought Israel was asking for the delivery of two Phantoms a month but could not say for how long a period.