TEL AVIV (Sep. 23)
The landing of several Iraqi transport planes at on airfield near Amman yesterday brought prompt assurances from Jordan that they were not intended as a threat to Israel’s security. Israel has accepted the explanation which U.S. Ambassador Samuel Lewis conveyed to Premier Menachem Begin at the request of the Jordanian authorities.
The Jordanians, who granted landing permission to the Iraqi transports, said the planes were flown to Jordan as a precautionary measure, lest they become targets of Iranian air attacks. Iraq is currently engaged in bitter land, sea and air battles with Iran.
Israelis apparently are less concerned with the presence of the non-combat aircraft near Amman than with the growing rapprochement between Jordan and Iraq. This has also caused some concern in Syria whose ailing Booth Party has long been at odds with the Booth Party that governs Iraq. There has been tension between the two countries although Israel regards both as potential threats on its eastern flank.
Now the Syrians see possible military cooperation between Jordan and Iraq as a threat to their own southeastern borders. According to some Israeli observers, Damascus would not remain idle in face of a Jordan-Iraq military buildup.
Meanwhile, Begin told a youth group at Beit Shemer today that Israel was carefully watching the Iraqi-Iranian situation. “We are not happy about this conflict even though both Iraq and Iran are our enemies,” he said. “It is easy to say where a war begins but much harder to predict how it could develop and what it could lead to.” He noted that both Iran and Iraq have links to countries bordering Israel.