NEW YORK (Feb. 10)
Moshe Arens, chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, warned here that Israel’s economic woes might weaken its defense ability. “Israel is facing now a shortage of funds and resources and that might influence its security.” Arens said in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at the conclusion of his two-and-a-half week visit to the United States Thursday, While in the country he spoke on behalf of the United Jewish Appeal and met with Congressmen in Washington.
Arens, a member of Likud, was among the 25 MKs who voted against the Camp David accords in the Knesset. Asked if in retrospect he would still vote again against the Camp David agreements in view of the Egyptian Israeli peace treaty and the normalization process that followed he replied: “I voted against the agreements because I thought Israel was taking unreasonable risks. My opposition was not to the peace agreements but rather to its terms. I was especially concerned over the oil fields in the Sinai and the airfields Israel agreed to give back to the Egyptians.
He added: “As far as I am concerned Israel’s energy problems today are even worse than it used to be. The same situation is with the redeployment of Israel’s forces in the Negev. Today it’s not clear at all how we are going to finance this redeployment. If we will not get the necessary funds we are going to face difficulties.” He said the redeployment of the Israel Defense Force in the Negev will require at least $5 billion.
FEARS EGYPTIAN PRESSURE OVER PALESTINIANS
Arens said that those in Israel who assumed that President Anwar Sadat of Egypt is not really interested in solving the Palestinian problem and that he will case, the pressure on Israel as far as Judaea and Samaria are concerned once Sinai is restored to Egyptian control, were mistaken.
“Israel is finding that it is under stronger Egyptian pressure now for concessions in Judaea and Samaria,” Arens observed, “with a threat hanging on the horizon that if Israel will not be forthcoming, a situation will be created in which Israel will have neither the Sinai nor a peace with Egypt.”
Noting that Israel uses about 160,000 barrels of oil daily, Arens said that the energy situation in his country is “grove,” considering the high cost of gasoline and the fact that many countries refuse to sell oil to the Jewish State. “This situation can be even graver if one day Egypt decides it is not going to provide Israel with the 40,000 barrels of oil (a day) she is seeking.”
Asked about Likud’s chances of winning the next elections, the hawkish MK said he believed that unless the new economic measures by Finance Minister Yigal Hurwitz are successful -“and I think he is likely to succeed” -Likud will lose the elections.