JERUSALEM (May. 17)
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan predicted last night that the United States and Soviet Russia would seek new measures to break the Middle East deadlock after the Nixon-Brezhnev summit meeting in Moscow that begins next week. Addressing the Labor Alignment’s Knesset faction. Dayan said the present impasse in the Middle East weighed heavily on both superpowers.
He said the Russians were concerned because the continuing deadlock impaired their position in the Arab world and the US was anxious to see at least a partial settlement that would not weaken Israel in a manner that would make it subject to military pressure. Dayan said the Egyptians apparently were dissatisfied with the quality and quantity of the weapons they are getting from the Soviet Union and claim the type of aircraft they are receiving does not improve their prospects for attaining air superiority over Israel.
The Defense Minister, however, could neither confirm nor deny reports in recent days that Russia was giving Egypt MIG-23s, the world’s fastest combat jet, or modern Tupolev-22 long range bombers. But Dayan observed that even if the reports were true, it would take the Egyptians many months to master the new planes.
EGYPT CONFIRMS OVERFLIGHTS
Last night the Egyptian Premier Aziz Sidky claimed that Israel is no longer superior to Egypt in air power. He said the recent incorporation of sophisticated aircraft into the Egyptian Air Force made talk of Israeli superiority groundless. The Egyptian government spokesman, Mohammed Hassan el-Zayyat confirmed last night that two Soviet MIG-23s overflew the Israel-held Sinai peninsula yesterday. It was the first time Egypt has confirmed an overflight although they have occurred many times since the cease-fire of Aug. 1970 and on four occasions in the past year involved MIG-23s.
El-Zayyat said, “We are in a state of war imposed on us by the Israeli military occupation. It should not be strange then that our forces should reconnoiter the situation in the occupied land. It is natural and expected that we should always take the necessary measures in this connection.” His reference to “our forces” seemed to imply that the MIG-23s were part of the Egyptian Air Force. It was not known whether they were piloted by Russians or Egyptians.