JERUSALEM (Jul. 22)
Defense Minister Shimon Peres said today that “Jordan is prepared for at least a joint war effort with Syria against Israel.” In reply to questions in the Knesset, he stated that Israeli Defense Forces regarded very seriously the deployment of the bulk of Jordan’s armed forces in positions facing Israel. He said the Jordanian formations at the moment were of a defensive nature but could be switched quickly without much difficulty to offensive formations.
Israel is extremely concerned over the pending sale of a $360 million U.S. air defense system to Jordan. The deal is being pressed by the Ford Administration against mounting opposition in Congress on grounds that it would tip the balance of military power in the Middle East against Israel.
Israelis and their supporters in the U.S. contend that the advanced ground-to-air missile systems would provide Jordan with the air defense umbrella it would need to attack Israel from the east. The lack of air defense is believed the primary reason why Jordan refrained from participation in the Yom Kippur War.
Peres made his remarks against the background of an apparent easing of tensions on Israel’s southern front with Egypt. Israeli proposals for a new interim agreement in Sinai are under study in Cairo and the Egyptians are expected to reverse their decision not to renew the UNEF mandate after it expires July 24.