Washington (Jul. 15)
The Reagan Administration apparently plans to go down to the wire on its self-imposed deadline for an expected announcement that the United States will resume shipment of F-16 jet fighters to Israel.
State Department spokesman Dean Fischer continued to maintain today that “no decision” has been made whether to lift the suspension on delivery of four F-16s that was ordered after Israel attacked Iraq’s nuclear reactor on June 7. But he reiterated that a decision will be made by this Friday when six more F-16s are scheduled to be shipped to Israel.
Fischer said that the statement issued at the conclusion of the visit to Israel by State Department Counsellor Robert McFarlane Monday night “does not reflect” that a decision has been made on the resumption of F-16 deliveries. The statement said that the “misunderstandings” between the U.S. and Israel over the Iraqi raid had been “clarified to the satisfaction of both sides.”
McFarlane, who returned to Washington last night, is scheduled to brief the House Foreign Affairs Committee tomorrow morning and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tomorrow afternoon. Fischer said that McFarlane’s scheduled testimony before the Senate committee today was postponed to give him more time to consult with Secretary of State Alexander Haig and with President Reagan who must make the final decision on the resumption of F-16 deliveries.
Fischer refused to disclose anything McFarlane may have discussed while in Israel nor would he clarify what the “misunderstandings” were between Israel and the U.S. He said that he could not say whether McFarlane had discussed the use of American-made weapons by Israel in its raids on Palestinian terrorist bases in Lebanon. He said McFarlane went to Israel for the “specific” purpose of discussing the use of American-made weapons in the raid on Iraq. (By David Friedman)