JERUSALEM (Jun. 17)
Israel will participate after all in the international maritime tribute to the United States Bicentennial in New York harbor next month, it was announced today. The government reversed an earlier decision not to send two missile boats representing the Israeli Navy to the U.S. for the event because the cost–about IL 2.5 million–was considered too much at a time when each ministry is under pressure to reduce its budget.
But Yitzhak Navon, chairman of the Knesset’s foreign affairs and security committee, felt it was unthinkable for Israel to be absent from the celebration in view of the special relationship it has with the U.S. He was supported by 12 of the 16 committee members. He brought the matter directly to Premier Yitzhak Rabin who consulted with Defense Minister Shimon Peres. The outcome was an announcement by the government today that Israel would send the boats “despite the considerable financial outlay involved.” The craft carry the Israel-made “Gabriel” surface-to-surface missiles. The little flotilla will be commanded by Adm. Benjamin Telem, commander of the Israel Navy.