JERUSALEM (Apr. 10)
Foreign Minister Abba Eban said today that President Idi Amin of Uganda deliberately chose to sacrifice his country’s relations with Israel in order to get Libyan financial aid. Eban’s remarks at a crowded press conference here this morning represented Israel’s official interpretation of events which have led to a de facto though still not formalized break in relations between Israel and Uganda.
Amin reportedly announced last night that he decided to sever diplomatic relations with Israel. But the Israeli Embassy in Kampala was already closed and the last Israelis left that country Friday. Eban did not mention a formal diplomatic break. But he indicated that Amin’s orders to close the Israeli military and diplomatic missions in Uganda were planned two months ago by Amin and Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, leader of Libya’s ruling military junta.
Eban intimated that Libya offered Amin financial support if he aligned Uganda with the Arab states. Eban disclosed that Uganda had made certain requests of Israel which Israel refused to accede to. He would not say what the requests were but observed that Israel refused to be involved in activities not in accordance with peace and development.
ELEMENT OF ANTI-SEMITISM
The Israel Foreign Minister said there was not a word of truth in Amin’s charges that Israel was interfering in Uganda’s internal affairs or that Israeli agents were trying to topple his regime. He stressed that Israeli aid to Uganda was in accordance with the Uganda government’s requests. Israel’s aid to Uganda included military supplies and training and cooperation in the fields of agriculture, administration, youth, education and health. Private Israeli companies were active in Uganda in the areas of contracting and planning.
Eban said it was ridiculous to blame Uganda’s economic difficulties on Israeli instructors as Uganda’s economy is controlled by its government. He said it was equally “absurd, improvised and not without anti-Semitism” for Amin to have claimed that the 700 Israelis engaged in various projects in Uganda constituted a fifth column.
According to reports reaching here today, Libyan and Egyptian military personnel have already moved into Uganda and are occupying military camps in Kampala, Entebe and Ginjeh. Their mission is believed to be not only military training but to provide a bodyguard for Amin against elements opposed to his regime and to advise him how to remain in power.