WASHINGTON (Mar. 5)
The State Department insisted Friday that the U.S. commitment to supply Israel with advanced military equipment under the second Sinai accord does not obligate Israel to approve U.S. sales of weapons to other countries.
Asked then why the Carter Administration is demanding that Congress accept the entire package of aircraft to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, or the proposals will be withdrawn in their entirety if Saudi Arabia is left out, the Department said, “circumstances change, the commitment to Israel remains.” Department spokesman Hodding Carter said he did not know of “any quid pro quo” in the U.S. commitment to Israel in 1975. The U.S., he said, stands by the commitment but it has “no itemization, no numbers,” and, he added, since 1948 “seven billion dollars worth of commitment has been maintained.”
In a jibe at Israel’s concern over Saudi Arabia’s construction of an air base at Tabuk, near the Red Sea, from which F-15s could fly over Israel’s part of Eilat within 10 minutes, Carter said: “In that part of the world, there are lots of places in ten minutes of each other and that goes in all directions.”
Carter acknowledged concern among Senators over the proposal to package the sale to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt but he said the Administration “put them together because all three should go forward together.”