Washington (Dec. 30)
The State Department said today that the U.S. is “looking into” reports that two Israeli jet fighter planes violated Iraqi air space today and retreated after encountering Iraqi aircraft.
The report, from Beirut, said the Iraqi News Agency confirmed that Israeli aircraft flew 30 miles over western Iraq, near the Saudi Arabian border and were driven off. The report identified them as F-15s. An Israeli military spokesman in Tel Aviv refused to confirm or deny the report, saying Israel does not disclose details of its military movements.
State Department deputy spokesman Alan Romberg said in reply to questions today that Sen. Charles Percy (R. III.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, carried no message from Secretary of State Alexander Haig during his three-day visit to Israel this week. Percy ended his visit today with a warning to Israel to desist from further “unilateral actions” taken “without regard for the interests of the United States.” (See separate story P.I)
Romberg was asked if the Senator’s meeting with three Palestinian leaders while in Israel was government sponsored. He replied, “The Administration obviously provides the kind of support to Sen. Percy that we would to anybody in his position. But it is his visit. It is not an Administration visit. I’m not aware that he carried any message” from Haig.
HAIG ON THE GOLAN ANNEXATION
The Secretary of State, who delivered a foreign policy speech devoted mainly to the Polish situation to the World Affairs Council of Northern California and the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco yesterday, was questioned about Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. He replied:
“I have seen the Golan Heights … I flew over them. It is a highly strategic piece of real estate, highly important real estate and no one could have lived in Israel and suffered the consequences of that real estate in the hands of an enemy country without understanding how vital it is to Israel.
“That is not suggested by the recent action which, as you know, our government opposed. We felt that the determination of the ultimate distribution of that territory on the Golan Heights was a matter for negotiations under the provisions of United Nations Resolution 242, which in itself, was written and conceived to contain the kind of ambiguities that would have resulted in a successful outcome of that issue.”
Romberg was asked today about reports that Haig will visit the Middle East in February, including a stop in Israel. He said he was aware of the reports but did not confirm them.