Israel Refused to Sell Arms to Portugal, Defense Official Reports

Israel rejected an order from Portugal for its famous Uzzi submachine guns and also refused permission to its Belgian patent concessionaire to supply the weapons to Portugal, Deputy Defense Minister Shimon Peres disclosed today in debate in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament.

The defense official made the statement in reply to Mapam and Communist demands for a full debate on reports that the Israeli-made weapons were being used by Portuguese forces to fight the rebellion in its Angola colony.

He added that relations with the Belgian firm, FN, had been “satisfactory and correct” since the relationship was established and that the therefore had full faith in the firm’s statement that it had not and would not supply the guns to Portugal. A large percentage of Israel’s light arms come from the Belgian firm with which Israel has an agreement for exchange of know-how and the manufacture of components and spare parts for the submachine guns.

Mr. Peres said that the Belgian firm asked last June for approval of sale of the Uzzis to Portugal after Israel refused to do so. He quoted from the Israel Foreign Ministry reply to the Belgian Firm’s request, in which the Ministry said it objected to the proposed sale to Portugal because this would be counter to Israel’s policy of refusing to sell arms to any colonial power.

Mordecai Bentov of Mapam suggested that it would be best not to sell arms to anybody because such sales were “fraught with danger.” The defense official replied that it would be “senseless” for Israel to impose such a self-embargo because the outcome of wars was not determined by submachine guns, however efficient the Uzzi might be.

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