Washington (Oct. 17)
Seventy-eight senators of both major parties have endorsed a resolution calling on the Nixon administration to resume deliveries of Phantom jets to Israel “without further delay” in order to maintain the balance of military strength in the Middle East. Political observers here said that with more than three quarters of the Senate’s membership behind it, the measure was virtually assured of passage. A State Department spokesman said Friday that the administration always took into account expressions by the Senate on these matters but said Israel’s request for more Phantoms was still under review.
The resolution, introduced on the floor by Sen. Hugh Scott (R., Pa.) the Minority Leader, also urged the administration to provide Israel with “supporting equipment and assistance as are essential to maintain Israel’s deterrent capacity” and to “reaffirm the importance of secure and defensible borders” to be “negotiated by the parties themselves.” The resolution goes to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for consideration. Committee chairman Sen. J. William Fulbright (D., Ark.) was not among its sponsor. Neither was Sen. Mike Mansfield (D., Mont.) the Majority Leader. The latter explained, however, that as a matter of personal policy he did not sign such resolutions. He added that he did not oppose shipments of war materials to Israel on an “even-out basis” to offset Soviet military deliveries to Egypt.
ISRAEL’S WARPLANES OUTNUMBERED 5-1
The joint resolution was hailed by Seymour Graubard, chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League as “an act of justice and an aid to peace in the Middle East.” He said it was a necessary response to continued Soviet shipment of sophisticated weapons including advanced jet aircraft to Egypt. “This is facing the realities of the situation in the Middle East,” Graubard said. Some observers here noted that Israel’s qualitative advantage in air power was being rapidly eroded under the weight of Soviet shipments to Egypt of its finest weapons and the continuous training of Egyptians in their use by Soviet specialists. Sen. Stuart Symington (D., Mo.), one of the 12 Senators–six Republicans and six Democrats–who drafted the resolution, warned that US intelligence information showed that Israel is outnumbered by more than 5-1 in warplanes and that Egypt now has the world’s most modern fighting plane, the Soviet MIG-23 known as the Foxbat.
State Department spokesman Charles Bray hedged on Friday when newsmen asked for clarification of Secretary Rogers’ promise to review the Mideast military balance. He would not say whether the US would consider the balance tipped by a mere Soviet declaration of intent to ship more arms to Egypt or whether it would wait for actual deliveries. He said he did not know what the Cairo-Moscow agreement on additional supplies entailed. Asked how the State Department could make an intelligent evaluation of the balance if it did not know what equipment Egypt was receiving, Bray replied, “We are going to take into account all the facts as we know them.”