NEW YORK (Sep. 23)
Shimon Peres, Israel’s Defense Minister, speaking at a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said today that the second Sinai interim accord did not mean that the dangers of the Middle East situation were over but did mean that there was a new ray of hope for all peace-loving peoples. Peres cautioned American Jewish leaders that they could not “go on vacation” in terms of mobilizing support for Israel because of the promises of broad scale U.S. military and economic assistance.
Peres also said that he was very much impressed with the serious response and the friendly attitudes of Congressional leaders with whom he had met for Israel’s and aid requests. He said the attitudes were much more positive than he had anticipated. He said he had been assured by both the majority and minority leaders in Congress that there was strong support for Israel’s aid requests of $2,3 billion.
Peres declared that while the ratio between the amount that would be in the form of a loan and in the form of grants had not been fixed, he said he expected that about one-third would be a loan and the remainder in the form of grants. He said Israel does not ask for this aid lightly and recognizes the U.S. economic problems, but he pointed out that most of the aid money would be spent in the U.S. for planes, electronic equipment and other products made in America.
CITES HIGHER COST OF ARMS
He also said the dimensions of Israel’s request did not reflect an enlargement of Israel’s requests but the higher costs of military equipment. He also said that in the past year alone, there had been a 23 percent increase in the prices of American military products and that the military equipment Israel needs had become so much more sophisticated that while the first planes Israel obtained from the U.S.–the Skyhawks–cost about $1 million each, the price of the F-15 which Israel hopes to acquire, is about $25 million each.
Peres said that controversy over the Pershing missile was a false one because it had nothing to do with the nuclear capability of the missile adding that Israel had other means of delivering warheads if it ever decided to do so. He said that “We ask for the Pershing not to decide the outcome of a war but to deter war. If the Arabs know that we have the Pershing missile, they might have second thoughts about launching a war.
He said, concerning Syria, that Israel would like to negotiate a full-fledged peace but that it was Syria’s turn to come up with suggestions for such a settlement. On the fighting inside Lebanon, he said the lesson was that there is no room in the Arab world for a non-Moslem minority. He expressed concern about the U.S. sale of Hawk missiles to Jordan and said he felt it was a “mistake” because a large number of Hawks could endanger the restraint that has characterized Jordan policy.