TEL AVIV (Oct. 16)
Israeli military and political circles are unhappy over the joint U.S. -Egyptian military exercises to be held late next month or early in December. According to reports from Washington, 1400 American military personnel are due in Egypt to participate.
Official reactions have been low keyed. Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Zipori observed that “the sending of American hoops to Egypt was expected against the background of the developing pattern of relations between Egypt and the U.S. It is a matter that concerns two nations friendly to us and we can do nothing about it.” It was learned that the subject was raised during the U.S.-Israeli strategic talks here earlier this month.
But Israeli military circles are not concealing their displeasure. One top ranking officer said the news that the U.S. is sending troops for joint exercises with the Egyptians is not happy news. These circles accept the idea that events in the Persian Gulf have forced the U.S. to demonstrate its presence in the region in response to Soviet penetration through their recently signed friendship pact with Syria.
They believe that while the combined exercises of Egyptian and American military personnel may not have an immediate effect on the balance of power between Israel and its neighbors, they could, in the long range, unbalance the present situation.
Israel is preparing, meanwhile, for the good will visit of the giant American aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy at Haifa next week. The JFK and its escorts will bring more than 7000 U.S. Navy officers and men to Israel for a week of rest and relaxation. While the JFK is welcome, political circles here can’t help comparing this good will gesture with the more meaningful U.S.-Egyptian joint exercises.