Washington (Jun. 24)
A New York Republican warned here last week that Israel’s raid on Iraq’s nuclear reactor June 7 would give certain members of the Senate a convenient excuse for voting in favor of the AWACS aircraft sale to Saudi Arabia. But Rep. John LeBoutillier predicted that the sale would be vetoed later this year by the Congress should the Reagan Administration decide to go ahead with it.
LeBoutillier spoke at a meeting sponsored by the Washington chapter of the American Jewish Forum, a group recently organized by politically conservative Jews. He defended Israel’s destruction of Iraq’s nuclear facility and charged that those who criticized it were enemies of Israel.
Nevertheless, he contended that despite mixed signals coming out of the White House in the wake of the raid, the American Jewish community would find that “Ronald Reagan is the best friend Israel ever had” in the White House. With respect to the AWACS, LeBoutillier suggested that a better alternative would be for the U.S. to “lease” the intelligence-gathering aircraft to the Saudis while maintaining ownership and control over how they are employed. He claimed that this position was favored by Secretary of State Alexander Haig.