WASHINGTON (Mar. 8)
Israeli Ambassador Simcha Dinitz today described the projected U.S. delivery of six C-130 troop transport planes to Egypt as “a dangerous course of action” and urged those seeking a Middle East settlement to help divert Egyptian policy from one leading to war to negotiations for peace. Dinitz addressed the International Biennial Convention of B’nai B’rith Women at the Shoreham Americana Hotel, being attended by more than 1000 members from eight countries, including a group of more than 40 from Israel.
Referring to the American position in the Middle East, he said that Israel has never demanded exclusivity in its relations with the United States and never ignored the necessity of the United States to develop friendly relations with other countries in the Middle East. In particular he said, Israel was mindful of the importance the U.S. attaches to its relations with Egypt and the necessity to maintain a dominant American posture in the Middle East.
In this connection, Dinitz noted that the American position in Egypt has been greatly enhanced by the U.S. move to save the encircled Egyptian Third Army during the Yom Kippur War and to bring about agreements that facilitated the opening of the Suez Canal, the return of the oil fields to Egypt and the withdrawal of Israel from strategic sites in Sinai.
He also pointed to the large-scale economic assistance that the U.S. is providing Egypt, which he said will amount to $2 billion in the next two years as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in food supplies. The U.S. also has agreed in principle to supply Egypt with a nuclear reactor, he said.
“Israel has not objected to the development of political, economic and technological ties between the U.S. and Egypt, but when it comes to the sensitive field of a military supply relationship, Israel views it with great concern and sees in it a dangerous course of action.”
AN ADDITION, NOT A SUBSTITUTE
The dangers of such a policy, Dinitz said, will not “allow the U.S. to preserve the balance or control the arms race.” He added that “since Egypt received and continues to receive military equipment from other sources, any American military supply will be an additive and not a substitute to the Egyptian arsenal.”
He pointed out that after the Yom Kippur War, Egypt received from the Soviet Union $1.5 billion in military equipment including fighter planes, missiles and artillery. Egypt, he said, “continues to receive military supplies from the Eastern bloc” to this day. In addition; it has contracted for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of arms from France, England and Italy, including planes, helicopters, missiles and electronic equipment.
During his recent visit to London, Dinitz said, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat himself announced an arms deal with Great Britain amounting to $1.2 billion. Sadat’s recent tour of the Persian Gulf countries brought Egypt a billion dollars, he said.
“Those who strive for peace in the Middle East must help direct Egyptian policy away from relying on arms leading to confrontation and war, into relying on economic and social developments leading to negotiations and peace,” Dinitz said. The Ambassador emphasized that Israel on its part will continue to do all possible to advance the cause of peace and alluded to Israel’s readiness to negotiate peace agreements with the Arab countries surrounding Israel.
STATE DEPARTMENT REACTION
At the State Department, a reporter asked whether the Ambassador’s remarks to an American audience constituted interference with U.S. domestic affairs. Spokesman Robert Funseth replied. “I am not really prepared to provide a judgement on that.”
Funseth added that Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, at a news conference in Atlanta on Saturday said, when asked in general terms about the subject of military supplies to Egypt, that the decision itself as to the establishment of a military relationship is a decision for the United States to make and not for someone else to make for the United States.
An Israeli Embassy spokesman, apprised of the question raised at the State Department, noted that the question was irrelevant since the Ambassador was not interfering in domestic affairs but speaking on a point on foreign affairs.
FORD: NO MILITARY BALANCE UPSET
Meanwhile, President Ford told a group of radio interviewers today that plans to sell Egypt six C-130 transport planes would not upset the military balance between Israel and Egypt. Noting that Egypt had severed its military relationship with the Soviet Union, Ford said: “I think it makes it at least responsible for us to take a look at Egypt’s military needs.”
Observing that the Israeli-Egyptian military balance would not be upset by the sale of the C-130s the President stated: “This is a policy of trying to see that each country, Israel and its Arab neighbors, have a responsible balance between their military capabilities.” He added that it was his opinion that this is a way for peace to be maintained in the Mideast “as we negotiate for a broader and further step” towards a peace settlement.
In a related development, U.S. Treasury Secretary William Simon left Cairo yesterday after telling Egyptian leaders that American aid to Egypt could total $1.85 billion in fiscal years 1976 and 1977 or during the 18 month period ending Sept. 30, 1977. Simon praised President Sadat for moving Egypt from state socialism to an economy permitting private investment. But he cautioned “There must be a clear signal to the international business community” that it is safe to invest in Egypt.