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SUNUNU DENIES LINKING ISRAELIS TO HIS DIFFICULTIES

White House chief of staff John Sununu is denying reports he privately suggested that pro-Israel groups are partly to blame for his recent difficulties. "I'm not blaming anybody but myself," he says.

A Jewish organization that had been critical of Sununu's reported attempts to find scapegoats for the controversy over his travel said Thursday it was satisfied with Sununu's assertion."I take him at his word when he says he does not blame anybody but himself," said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.

"I wrote to him (on Wednesday) and told him it would be helpful if he clarified his situation," Foxman said in an interview.

In addition to issuing his brief statement, Sununu placed calls to Jewish leaders Thursday to deny that he had been engaged in any campaign to blame his troubles on them or anyone else.

It was the second time in a week Sununu has issued a statement defending his conduct in the growing controversy over his extensive use of military jets, government limousines and corporate planes for personal and political travel.

Last Saturday he put out a statement expressing regret over any appearance of impropriety his actions may have caused and admitting he had made mistakes in travel arrangements.

The White House on Thursday sought to distance itself from several recent news stories that said Sununu, a second-generation Lebanese-American, had suggested a vendetta was being waged against him by Jewish groups.

Presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said the stories were "insidious" and difficult to respond to because only anonymous sources were mentioned.

Meanwhile, Fitzwater disclosed that Sununu had received threats since becoming mired in the controversy over his travel practices but had not sought Secret Service protection.