Jerusalem (Sep. 1)
Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R. N.Y.) predicted here yesterday that there will be a close vote in Congress over the Reagan Administration’s proposal to sell AWACS reconnaissance planes to Saudi Arabia. The solon, who is visiting Israel, said in a radio interview here that the United States should have learned a lesson from its arms sale to the Shah of Iran.
“The Saudi threat does not come from outside,” he stated. “The Saudis are incapable of defending themselves against an outside threat. The threat comes from inside. It comes from its own military, it comes from a possible Qaddafi coming to the surface. That’s not going to be controlled by giving them more fire power.”
D’Amato affirmed that there is no waning of Israeli opposition to the AWACS deal and said that in his talks with Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, the Israeli Minister indicated that Jerusalem would not become involved in the U.S. congressional debate on the AWACS.
The Senator dismissed reports that Israel’s continued opposition to the deal might cause hard feelings on the part of President Reagan. “I think the Reagan Administration is sophisticated enough to recognize how the government, (Premier) Menachem Begin and even the opposition parties, of necessity, would be opposed to this kind of sophisticated transfer of military equipment to Saudi Arabia.” D’Amato predicted Begin and Reagan would get along well together in their summit meetings in Washington next week.