Peres; U.S. Withholding Some Arms to Israel and Delaying on Others

Defense Minister Shimon Peres said today that “we shall soon know if we are nearing” another interim accord with Egypt but he said it was “unwise” while negotiations continued to make “almost every morning” new evaluations on the talks. Speaking at a luncheon meeting of the Israeli-American Chamber of Commerce, Peres confirmed reports that the United States was continuing to send to Israel military items scheduled to be supplied under previous agreements.

However, he said, since the start of the Ford Administration’s “reassessment” last March of its Middle East policies, there are military items “we are prevented from getting” and items on which supply to Israel “is being delayed.” Peres declared that a major effort was being made to expand Israel’s military industry, adding that “the less we use our friendship with the United States for military supplies, the greater the friendship will be.”

Citing an estimate that the Soviet investment in arms and other supplies to Middle East Arab countries totals about $25 billion. Peres conceded it was unlikely that Israel alone would be able to meet the “non-stop” flow of Soviet military and economic aid to the Arab countries. Malcolm Toon, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, told the luncheon the United States would continue its economic aid to Israel.

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