WASHINGTON (Jun. 24)
Israel formally expressed Friday its concern over the proposed sale by the US government of Phantom jet fighter bombers to Saudi Arabia, the State Department reported. The concern was expressed in a note delivered by Israeli Ambassador Simcha Dinitz to Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Rush.
According to a Department spokesman, the note was in “the spirit of the good relations” between the two countries.
Ambassador Dinitz had previously informed Presidential advisor Henry Kissinger and Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Sisco of Israel’s stand on this subject.
Press reports have said that the US sale of more than a billion dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia would include from 24 to 30 Phantoms.
“We will continue to give the Israeli views careful consideration,” Mr. Rush was reported to have told Dinitz. Mr. Bush reiterated the US position, the-American-spokesman said, that the Phantoms have not yet been sold to Saudi Arabia and that every effort would be made to prevent their transfer to a third country.
Mr. Rush and the envoy also discussed the Nixon-Brezhnev summit conference and the Security Council’s Middle East debate but the spokesman would not comment on them.
An Israeli Embassy spokesman said that “we see eye to eye” with the US regarding the “strategic conception” in the Persian Gulf and that Israel “understands the US position” but that Israel is concerned about the weapons eventual transfer to other Arab countries. The Phantom jets’ arrival in Saudi Arabia would cause Israel to take into “strategic consideration” that country, the Israeli spokesman said.
(In Monticello, N.Y. yesterday, I. L.’ Kenen, newly elected chairman of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee warned that the decision to provide Phantom jets to Saudi Arabia could threaten the progress towards peace in the Middle East.)