NEW YORK (Dec. 16)
Israel must double its gross national product so that its economic strength may match its military might, the chairman of the Knesset Security Committee, Moshe Arens, told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
In a briefing yesterday to the Conference following a two-week visit to the United States, during which he met with Congressional leaders. of both parties as well as with members of President-elect Reagan’s transition team, Arens said it was “essential for Israel to take advantage of its strong economic potential.
“We have the talent to double our GNP from $3,500 per person to $8,000 per person,” Arens, said. “But to achieve this goal, which would enable us to be as strong economically as we are militarily, we need greater economic assistance from the United States, mare support from American Jews and stepped-up investment of American companies in Israeli industry.”
Arens, an American who studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cal. Tech be fore emigrating to Israel, reported that Israel’s Westwind executive jet already had 10 percent of the American market and that a similar share of the U.S. market had been won by the Elscint CAT scanner, a sophisticated medical diagnostic device.
REPORTS ON MILITARY THREATS
While optimistic about the potential for Israeli economic growth, Arens delivered a sober report on the military threat that he said would face the Jewish state if Saudi Arabia received additional firepower and fuel tanks for the F-15 jet fighter-bombers which the Carter Administration pushed through Congress two years ago and if Jordan received additional tanks from the United States.
He said that Israel, now a “major military power,” was fully able to defend itself against its neighbors “and even those states at some distance from us. But we cannot indefinitely continue our qualitative superiority in the face of new arms sales to Jordan and Saudi Arabia of high quality American equipment.”
The Knesset leader said he was “deeply impressed by the tremendous work done on the American scene by the American Jewish community” but cautioned that the incoming Reagan Administration was under “powerful pressure” to appease the Arabs rather than to strengthen the U.S. Israeli alliance.
Arens said he believes that Reagan “takes the Soviet threat more seriously than President Carter. Therefore I believe that it is possible to forge a new and strong U.S. -Israeli alliance, one that will strengthen the United States by strengthening Israel.”