WASHINGTON (Apr. 27)
Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan denied today that his country was interfering in the American political process in any form. “I did not come here to lobby” or to question any decision made by the U.S. government, Dayan told reporters following a two-hour meeting with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance at the State Department this morning.
Dayan’s statement was apparently prompted by a remark yesterday by White House Press Secretary Jody Powell that Washington, not Israel, will determine what is in the best interests of America. Powell was speaking in connection with the Administration’s proposed aircraft sales package for Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia which Israel vigorously opposes. The implication, according to some press reports, was that the Administration believes Israel is exerting undue pressure to block the package deal.
The State Department’s chief spokesman, Hodding Carter, was asked this morning if the Carter Administration considered Israel to be interfering in American politics. He replied that he could not speak for the entire Administration but “I have heard no such remark from the Secretary of State.”
The spokesman added that all countries concerned in the aircraft sales package–Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia–have made their views clear on the matter. “We can hardly say to any government that they should not express a view on a matter that deals with their security,” he said. Carter also cautioned reporters that “no dramatic announcement should be expected” from the Dayan-Vance talks, which he described as part of the continuing process of seeking progress toward peace in the Middle East.
REITERATES ISRAEL’S OPPOSITION
Dayan told reporters that his discussion with Vance this morning, like their four hours of talks yesterday, was devoted entirely to Middle East peace negotiations. Pressed by reporters to repeat his statement of Israel’s views on the aircraft package deal, Dayan said he had expressed himself on that subject before leaving Tel Aviv for Washington Tuesday and his statement stands.
However, when the newsmen insisted, Dayan reiterated that Israel will continue to oppose the package and if the Administration “punishes us” by not supplying Israel with planes, “we shall accept the punishment but we will not change our view.”
Dayan said he made the same statement to a group of Senators, who he did not identify, at a breakfast meeting here this morning devoted to the aircraft package issue. Dayan also disclosed that he had a private meeting last night with Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Advisor, but would not divulge what was discussed. Meanwhile, Jody Powell said that the Administration will submit its plane package proposal to Congress no later than next Tuesday.