WASHINGTON (Jun. 21)
Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance said this week that the United States will provide to Israel “the arms which are necessary for its self-defense.” He would not commit the United States to going to war to save Israel. His comments came in response to questions on ABC’s “Issues and Answers” Sunday in which he also said that “before we jump to any conclusions” about Israeli Premier Menachem Begin’s views “we must wait” to hear “first-hand what his foreign policy is, what he is prepared to do with respect to the negotiation on a peace in the Middle East.” He said that “hopefully” Begin will come to Washington at the end of July.
After confirming as “correct” Vice President Walter Mondale’s statement Friday that the U.S. will not use the threat of reducing military aid to Israel to give up occupied territories, Vance was asked whether that means the U.S. will continue to sell arms to Israel and the Arab countries “regardless whether there is any progress toward peace.”
Vance replied that the U.S. has urged all of the parties about the “need for restraint and reduction in arms sales in the area and we will continue to do so but let there be no question, we have a deep commitment to Israel that we will provide to Israel the arms which are necessary for its self-defense and we will abide by that without any question and I don’t want any lack of clarity on that point.”
Asked whether the U.S. would go to war to save Israel, Vance replied: “Let me say we have told Israel that we stand behind her, that we will do everything that is necessary to preserve her security and integrity should it be challenged, and I think that sufficiently answers the question.” (By Joseph Polakoff)