WASHINGTON (Sep. 23)
Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D., Wash.) said today that he will move “at the earliest practicable opportunity” for legislation extending a new line of “military credits” in the amount of $500 million for Israel to enable it to purchase additional F-4 Phantom aircraft. It was Jackson’s amendment to the Foreign Military Procurement Act of 1971 that provided $500 million in credits for Israeli military purchases and gave the President authority to use funds at his discretion for that purpose. Jackson said on the Senate floor today that he was serving notice on the Nixon administration that he would press for new credits for Israel in the interests of maintaining the military balance in the Middle East. He criticized the administration sharply for assuming “with neither evidence nor logic to support it that the Soviet Union genuinely desires a stabilizing settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute.”
“Out of this naive assumption,” Jackson said, “arose such serious errors as our failure to respond to severe Soviet violations of the standstill cease-fire last year.” He noted that there was a measure currently before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by which the administration would make available $300 million to Israel for the “purchase of Phantom aircraft.” Obviously, he said, “If these funds are authorized and appropriated in a timely fashion, and if they are expended for the purpose of providing these vital planes, I would adjust my amendment accordingly and as the situation dictates.” However, Jackson said, “uncertainties surround” the bill in the hands of the committee headed by Sen. J. William Fulbright (D., Ark.).
Last year Fulbright conducted what was almost a one-man campaign against the Jackson amendment and the open-ended authority it gave the President to provide military credits for Israel. The amendment was adopted 87-7 providing $500 million for Israel. Sen. Jackson noted that these funds have been expended but the President’s authority to advance more remains in force until Sept. 30, 1972. Jackson maintained that “the best hope for peace in the Middle East lies with an Israel strong enough to defend itself and thereby deter aggression.” He said the “significant Soviet military involvement in Egypt seriously complicates our efforts to assess the stability of the military balance in the Middle East because it is impossible to predict the nature of Soviet activity in the event of an outbreak of hostilities.” Jackson said that 115 Soviet officers of general rank were among the 15-20000 Russian personnel in Egypt.