JERUSALEM (May. 21)
The Cabinet issued a sharp attack on the U.S. aircraft sales package to Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia today and deferred consideration of Key questions about Israel’s peace proposals submitted by the U.S. last month.
Cabinet Secretary Arye Naor said the ministers “had no time” to take up the questions which the U.S. Administration had posed to Premier Menachem Begin and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan three weeks ago on Israel’s ideas for the future of the West Bank after a five year period, assuming Israel’s offer of “self-rule” was accepted.
Naor said the Cabinet would deal with that matter at a subsequent session leading some observers to conclude that the government was demonstrating its bitterness over the aircraft package deal.
SAYS PACKAGE UPSETS ARMS BALANCE
Government officials did not directly encourage that interpretation but the statement read by Naor left no doubt as to the Cabinet’s mood. It said that the aircraft package would “upset the arms balance in the area” and would “lead to a further hardening of the Arabs’ position which is anyway tough and uncompromising.
The Cabinet stressed that Washington’s commitment to sell Israel advanced F-16 jets had been made in 1975 “unconditionally” and claimed that the package “creates a danger for Israel. “The statement said “The government will act so as to minimize this danger.”There was no elaboration. But Naor said the Cabinet, which met for five hours, had taken “a number of decisions” in connection with the aircraft deal that he was not at liberty to divulge. He said the decisions did not pertain to Israel’s negotiating position. Some observers deduced that the decisions involved deferse and strategic considerations in light of the planes deal, its military implications and indications that the American Administration is ready to offer Israel some “compensation, “apparently in the form of additional combat aircraft.