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Eban: Lbj Established Principle of Mideast Balance of Power

January 24, 1973
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Foreign Minister Abba Eban today paid tribute to the late President Lyndon B. Johnson saying he “was friendly and understanding to Israel even before he became President. During his presidency he understood the need to strengthen Israel against the dangers which ensnared it, and it was he who approved the sale of Patton tanks and Phantom planes to the State of Israel.” Eban said Johnson thereby “established the principle of the balance of power as the first guarantee of the advancement of peace in the Middle East….Whenever an Israeli thinks about the security of his country and its citizens, he must remember the vital role played by Lyndon Johnson.”

The Foreign Minister also sent cables of condolence to Mrs. Johnson and to Secretary of State William P. Rogers. His cable to Mrs. Johnson said in part: “We hope that in this grievous personal and national loss you may find comfort in the knowledge that Lyndon Johnson had earned immortality in the annals of Israel..We are grateful for his steadfast contribution to our security and welfare.”

Addressing the Secretary of State as “Dear Friend,” Eban said “there is not a man or woman in Israel who is not grief-stricken by the news of the death of Lyndon Johnson.” Asking Rogers to convey to the U.S. government Israel’s “sympathy with the American nation and with the bereaved family.” Eban said Johnson’s name “will be inscribed in Israel’s memory for all that he did to strengthen the security and welfare of our state. In one of its most dangerous moments Israel was sustained by his resolute concern for its security and dignity. For that service we shall cherish his memory always.”

In Tel Aviv, Mrs. Miriam Eshkol, widow of the late Premier Levi Eshkol, today sent a condolence cable to the Johnson’s family. The Israeli press headlined Johnson’s death and revered him both as statesman and friend of Israel. One paper wrote he was “the most Zionist of American presidents.”

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