TEL AVIV (Nov. 28)
The United States secretly requested information from the Defense Ministry last month on the infrastructure of the West Bank and Gaze Strip. This was revealed today when Yediot Achronot published a letter stamped “confidential,” signed by the Military Attache of the U.S. Embassy, Brig. Gen. Schuyker Bissel.
The letter, dated Oct. 25, asked for data on electricity consumption, water systems, roads and industries in the two territories that are slated for administrative autonomy under the Camp David agreements. It asked for projections of electric power consumption in the territories up to the year 2000.
Although the Defense Ministry provided the information which is not classified and, in fact, has been made public already, Israeli circles were puzzled by the timing of the letter, why it was marked confidential and why the military attache was interested in such matters. One question asked today is whether the Americans are seeking the information because they intend to provide assistance to the region when autonomy takes effect.
Bissel said today that the information he solicited at the request of Washington was of a routine nature and had nothing to do with the impending autonomy scheme. He said that as far as he could recall the request was made to him before the question of autonomy came up and was in line with American information gathering all over the world.