JERUSALEM (Oct. 18)
Defense Minister Shimon Peres said he would ask the Cabinet’s approval shortly to make a down payment, on the $200 million worth of U.S. weapons that President Ford approved for sale to Israel last week. He said he hoped the weapons could be bought at an earlier date than originally planned when they were first requested.
Peres said at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting that inflation has compelled Israel to shelve certain military purchases or to stagger them over a longer period. But he thought delivery of the latest weapons systems could be advanced to begin in 1976 instead of 1977.
(Ford told a group of American-Jewish editors at the White House last week that the weapons in question are “very sophisticated” and that “it may take some time” before they are actually turned over to Israel.)
Peres said deliveries could be stepped up because in some cases dates have been altered and in others, orders were cancelled. He said that in some instances the prices turned out to be lower than the original estimate. Nevertheless, he said, Israel would still be short some $1.2 billion to pay for its arms purchases over the next three years.