TEL AVIV (Dec. 22)
Prime Minister Levi Eshkol warned tonight that Israel reserves the right to freedom of action, should there be any change in the status quo in neighboring Jordan. He voiced his warning following an official announcement by the Amman radio in Jordan, reporting the resignation of the Jordanian Cabinet.
The resignation today of the Cabinet in Jordan is attributed to the resistance of King Hussein to pressure from other Arab governments that he permit the stationing of Iraqi and Saudi Arabian troops in Jordan as “protection” against Israel. The king is unwilling to have foreign Arab troops in his land, fearing that they may conspire against him. Immediately after the fall of his Cabinet today, he asked his trusted Premier, Wafsi Tell, to form a new government.
Premier Eshkol, apparently reacting to the change in Jordan, said that it was Israel’s policy to honor and preserve the status quo in the region, but, if changes in the status quo occur, Israel would feel free to act in the interests of the Jewish state. He spoke at a rally of the Alignment, composed of his Mapai Party and Achdut Avodah.
The policy enunciated tonight by the Premier is not a new one, and it has been given publicity several times recently. However, threats against King Hussein’s regime from Syria and Iraq impelled the Israel Government to repeat the warning again. Last weekend, Labor Minister Yigal Alon expressed the same view but said he was conveying his personal opinion.
The Premier said that the Middle East regional balance of power was unstable because of continuous arms supplies to the Arab states, and that it was Israel’s duty to maintain the balance. He noted that, in recent years, Israel has had “significant success in this field and even the future is not without hope, should the balance again deteriorate.”
He defended Israel’s November 13 retaliation raid on Jordan as “successful, justified and moral, both in the defensive and deterring character it had.” He said Israel was condemned by the U.N. Security Council “because we have the Russian veto constantly awaiting us” at the United Nations and “because some friends became unnecessarily over excited about the future of the Jordanian regime.” He indicated that Israel’s armed forces would be strengthened.