TEL AVIV (Sep. 28)
Israel would assist Iran militarily in its war with Iraq on condition that Iran abandoned its extreme anti-Israel policy and stopped supporting Palestinian terrorists Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Zipori said according to an interview published in Mooriv today. (See related story, P.4.)
“Israel can provide considerable assistance to Iran and enable her, from a logistical point of view, to continue its war with Iraq,” Zipori was quoted as saying. “However, it is self-evident that such a possibility could not materialize unless there is a significant change in the present extreme regime of Iran. The Iranian authorities will first have to change their bitterly hostile policy toward us. Today they support Palestinian terrorists and wage political and economic war against us.”
Zipori noted, according to Mooriv, that Israeli military assistance in the form of equipment could be of major importance to Iran because its army already uses some shells of Israeli manufacture and its navy employs the Israel-made Gabriel surface-to-surface missile weapons apparently sold to Iran during the regime of the late Shah. But as of now, Zipori pointed out, the Iranian attitude toward Israel is the some as that of the Palestine Liberation Organization and “it is unthinkable that we shall assist the PLO.”
GROWING CONCERN IN ISRAELI CIRCLES
Zipori’s remarks reflected growing concern in Israeli circles that Iraqi hegemony over the Persian Gulf in the event of a successful outcome of its war against Iran could have long-term detrimental effects for Israel.
Gen. Yehoshua Saguy, chief of army intelligence, made that point in a television interview over the weekend. He warned that the ascendancy of Iraq would strengthen Soviet influence in the Gulf region. He did not role out the possibility of direct Soviet intervention if the Iraqi-Iranian war is prolonged or if a power struggle develops in Iran.
Saguy also noted that Iraq has a nuclear weapons potential. “If I were an Iranian I would think twice about the effect of this war in another four or five years, especially about the fact that Iraq will be a nuclear power by the end of the 1980s,” Saguy said. The Iraqi nuclear reactor under construction near Baghdad has not yet been hit by Iranian bombers, he observed.
Of more direct consequence to Israel, Saguy referred to the growing economic ties between Iraq and Jordan, leading possibly to military ties, which would pose a serious threat to Israel on its eastern borders.
Shimon Peres, leader of the opposition Labor Party also referred to Jordan in the context of the Iraqi-Iranian conflict. In an interview published today in Yediot Achronot, Peres suggested that the time is now ripe for Israel to seek contacts with Jordan. According to Peres, King Hussein fears being squeezed between a powerful Iraq and a threatening PLO and despite his public declarations to the contrary, Jordan would be ready to talk peace with Israel.