WASHINGTON (Mar. 3)
A Defense Department official said yesterday that “Moslem states” are damaging themselves by impeding the U.S. use of military facilities in Israel. Robert Komer, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, expressed that view to 200 editors and broadcasters from all over the country attending a series of briefings here at the invitation of the State Department.
Speaking at length on Soviet military power and its use of that power to penetrate the Middle East and threaten the oil fields on which the West relies, Komer was asked by Leon Brown, editor of the Jewish Times of Philadelphia, why the Carter Administration does note take advantage of military bases in Israel to help overcome the situation he described. Komer replier. We got a little problem.”
He said “Most of the oil-rich states are Moslem” and they make “U.S. use of Israel a little difficult to abide by. The Moslem states — including Iron — are biting off their noses to spite their faces,” he said. “The Moslem world makes it difficult for us to use Israeli bases for our support.”
State Department chief spokesman Hodding Carter was asked today if he agreed with Komer’s views. He declined to comment directly on them but observed: “The question of base facilities in Israel have been at the same point over a long period.”
The State Department’s official public position has been that the U.S. does not want bases in Israel or elsewhere in the Middle East but is interested in “facilities” and these are now under discussion with Somalia, Kenya and Oman. Asked about these discussions, particularly with Oman in light of the Administration’s “foul-up” over the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement policies, spokesman Carter said “We continue to have satisfactory talks with Oman.” He said “The discussions on facilities are moving at an appropriate pace” and “we expect to use facilities in those countries.”