Israel Delays Decision on Seeking Refund of $100 Million in Embargoed Materiel

Government sources said today that no formal decision has been made so far on whether to demand a refund from France for $100 million worth of embargoed military equipment. A decision may be announced after the Cabinet meets next Monday. Various aspects of the situation were being studied by legal, financial and defense experts who will present their recommendations to the Cabinet. The flow of strategic materiel to Israel was halted last week when the de Gaulle Government imposed a “total embargo” in the aftermath of Israel’s Dec. 28 reprisal raid on Beirut Airport. The new embargo includes all weapons, spare parts, missiles, ammunition and helicopters.

A Defense Ministry spokesman said today that diplomatic and political factors, in addition to financial considerations, would be weighed before Israel decided whether to demand a refund. Observers here noted that such a demand would acknowledge that the de Gaulle embargo was final. Nevertheless, lawyers for the Foreign and Defense Ministries were scrutinizing clauses in various contracts with private French firms. They were trying to determine whether French Government approval of the contracts constituted a guarantee of their terms, including delivery. In that event, the French Government could be held liable, some sources said. A French spokesman said yesterday that so far as the private contractors were concerned the embargo was a “force majeure” which freed them from the terms of their contracts with Israel.

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