New York (May. 4)
Mayor Edward Koch said today that the Reagan Administration’s proposed sale of a multimillion dollar arms package to Saudi Arabia, including Air Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), would be a “betrayal of a promise” to Israel and a “gross error on the part of the United States.” Koch declared,” The sales should not be deferred but ended.”
Koch, addressing a luncheon sponsored by the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, said it is in America’s best interests and a national security matter for a strong Israel. He said that the proposed arms sale “is destructive of Israel” and there is ” no question” it would reduce Israel’s ability to defend itself.
The mayor added that the initial agreement of the sale of F-15s to the Saudis in 1978 stipulated that “we would never allow their planes to be offensively outfitted.” The arms package now being proposed by the Reagan Administration is “a betrayal of Israel,” he said.
Koch also focused on the Saudi commitment to the destruction of Israel. He strongly chastised those who applauded Saudi Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani when he told a meeting of the Foreign Policy Association in New York last month that Israel was Saudi Arabia’s main enemy. “Some people will sell their own mothers for oil,” Koch declared.
The mayor praised Israel for its stand in defending the Christian population of Lebanon and criticized Christians in America for remaining silent about the Lebanese situation in which the Christians there are being slaughtered by the Syrian armed forces and the Palestine Liberation Organization. He said Lebanese Christians are usually referred to as rightwing Phalangists and that this term in the U.S. “has been a problem in the cause of the Christian population in Lebanon,” Koch said.