JERUSALEM (Jun. 19)
The newspaper Yediot Achronot reported today that Israel and Britain will resume contacts next fall over Israel’s request to buy $144 million worth of Chieftain tanks. The newspaper attributed its information to reliable sources and said this was one of the results of Premier Golda Meir’s recent trip to Britain. Sale of the tanks to Israel was reportedly stymied by the British Foreign Office on grounds that it might compromise Britain’s neutral position as a participant in the Big Four Mideast talks in New York. The proposed sale of Chieftain tanks to Libya, an Arab country, was debated this week in the British Parliament.
The Chieftains are regarded by Israeli military officials as critically important. Most of Israel’s tanks–Pattons and Centurions–are outdated, rebuilt and second-hand. The only exceptions are several French made AMX-model light reconnaissance tanks. Two Chieftains were tested in Israel and generally stood up to trials. Britain recently concluded a deal to sell two Vickers tanks to Kuwait. Israel has complained to the UN that Kuwaiti troops participated in a breach of the Suez Canal cease-fire recently.