U.S. Accused of Initiating Arms Race in the Middle East

Moshe Arens, chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, accused the United States of initiating a “Middle East arms race” by supplying modern weaponry to Egypt and Saudi Arabia and also claimed that the U.S. is “pressuring Israel to ‘solve’ the Palestinian problem through a return to the 1967 border” so that Washington can “prove its good faith to the Arabs.”

Arens, a Likud howk who voted against the Camp David accords in the Knesset, made his remarks at a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations here last week. He charged that the formulators of American foreign policy are committing a grove error if they believe arming Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia will stabilize an “inherently unstable Arab world.”

Arens said that “U.S. and Israeli interests in the Mideast are identical” but “because of the widespread belief that ‘Jerusalem is in America’s pocket anyway,’ Israel is being treated at arms length while Egypt and Saudi Arabia are being wooed with advanced arms — 75.F-15 jets for Egypt, 80 F–16 jets for Saudi Arabia; 800 armed personnel carriers and 900 tanks for Egypt”

According to Arens, the net result of “the American-initiated Middle East arms race” was that “Israel must increase its military spending to counter the huge increase in weaponry now or soon to be in Arab hands from both the U.S. and from the Soviets.”

RAPS U.S. POLICY OF IGNORING ISRAEL

Arens, who is visiting the U.S., made similar remarks in an address earlier to another group of Jewish leaders at American Jewish Committee headquarters. Claiming that Israel is America’s only consistent ally in the Middle East, he maintained that a U.S. policy which ignored Israel was based on illusory thinking. However, he said he welcomed the growing awareness in this country of the menace of Soviet aggression in the Middle East.

“What is good for the United States is good for Israel,” he declared, “and similarly, what is in Israel’s security interest benefits the United States.” He warned against wooing the Arabs and other Moslem states because “most Middle Eastern countries are inherently unstable and have no commitment to democracy and Western interests and ideals.” Consequently, he said, an American policy that provides such countries with large quantities of sophisticated arms risks having those arms fall into unfriendly hands without any assurance that they would be used in defense of American interests.

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