Israel Bid for U.S. Rockets Turned Down; Sale to U.a.r. Viewed Gravely
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Israel Bid for U.S. Rockets Turned Down; Sale to U.a.r. Viewed Gravely

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The United States Government, which has now announced officially that it is sanctioning the sale of meteorological rockets to the United Arab Republic, has repeatedly refused, in the last two years, to permit the sale of the same type of rocket to Israel, it was learned here today.

Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion officially told the Cabinet, at its weekly session, that Israel knew the UAR intended to fire a rocket on July 23, in celebration of the anniversary of Egypt’s revolution. That is the reason, he said, Israel publicized its blast-off of the Shavitt-II last week, although, in the past, numerous scientific experiments have been carried out without disclosure.

Israeli circles are viewing the American willingness to sell rockets to the UAR with grave concern, since Israel’s request for such rockets was refused, and since the Soviet Union has refused to sell these rockets to the UAR. They fear that the alacrity with which Washington Jumped at the chance of helping the UAR in this respect, may indicate a new trend in Washington to court the good will of UAR President Gamal Abdel Nasser, even at the expense of upsetting the precarious balance of arms in the Middle East.

It is feared here that this “ill considered” move by Washington, instead of strengthening American ties with Nasser, may lead to Soviet reconsideration of its refusal to sell rockets to Nasser. The consequence, it is said, may be a new round of blackmail moves by Nasser.


America’s move is likely to force Israel to take a second look at the potentialities of her own rocket research to maintain her position in the rocket race which might well have been set back by the American action. Israel may now have to take a fresh look also at her general public relations standing in America in view of the fact that Washington, which for years has refused Israeli requests, thought nothing of permitting rocket sales to Egypt.

Observers here are criticizing the Israeli Government also for its ultra-secrecy in connection with the development of the Shavit-II to the blast-off stage. This attitude, some hold, actually helped Washington’s approval of the rocket sale to Egypt. By not divulging earlier that Israel was refused such rockets by Washington, and by not disclosing that-Israel knew that Washington had approved the sale to Egypt–a fact which was known here–it is charged that Israel helped create the impression that the Washington step was a reaction to the firing of the Shavit-II.

At the Cabinet meeting, Mr. Ben-Gurion was also criticized by members of the Opposition parties for singling out Foreign Minister Golda Meir as the one Cabinet member observing the firing of the Shavit-II. Mr. Ben-Gurion replied that the blast-off was “an internal experiment.” He said the Ministry of Transport and Communications, headed by Yitzhak Ben-Aharon, of the leftist Ahdut Avodah party, was concerned only with meteorology, and did not have anything to do with research. The project, he said, was carried out by the research and planning section of the Defense Ministry.

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