JERUSALEM (May. 18)
President Carter has sent what was described as a warm letter to Premier Menachem Begin containing assurances of America’s continued commitment to the security and welfare of Israel. The letter was conveyed to Begin yesterday by U.S. Ambassador Samuel Lewis. It reportedly does not mention the aircraft sales package deal for Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia which the Senate ratified Monday over strenuous opposition from Israel’s friends in the U.S.
Nevertheless, Carter’s letter was seen as part of the Administration’s efforts to assuage the bitterness generated by the aircraft sales to Arab countries and to calm Israeli fears that their special relationship with the U.S. has been affected.
More concrete expressions of American support are expected to be detailed by Begin at this Sunday’s Cabinet meeting. They are said to include additional F-15 fighter planes and possibly American approval of the sale of Israel’s Kfir jet fighter to Taiwan.
The Nationalist Chinese regime reportedly is interested in buying 50 Kfirs but so far Israel has not had a response from Washington for permission to sell the aircraft. Permission is required because the Kfir is powered by American-made engines. Two years ago Israel was denied permission to sell Kfirs to Ecuador.
The Prime Minister’s Office reported today that it continues to receive telephone calls from Israel’s supporters in the U.S., Jewish and non-Jewish, over the failure to block the aircraft sales to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The Premier’s Office said the callers are encouraging and point out that the aircraft sales represents “only one battle lost.”