TEL AVIV (Mar. 21)
Defense Minister Moshe Arens disclosed today that Israel has decided to provide the U.S. with information about war materials obtained in the Lebanon war without demanding anything concrete in return. The decision, by the Cabinet yesterday, was disclosed by Arens at a specially-convened press conference here. He did not reveal the nature of the information.
Former Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was reported to have been in the opposing minority at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting. Sharon had opposed providing the Americans with intelligence information without guarantees that it would not be passed on through other channels to the Arabs.
Arens said that his predecessor, Sharon, had invited U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in October, 1982 to join with Israel in studying the lessons of the Lebanon fighting. An American delegation came to Israel last November and initialled an agreement.
“As some time has elapsed, and misunderstanding have arisen, we have decided to study the lessons under existing agreements,” Arens said.
“The first American delegation, from the U.S. Air Force, will arrive in Israel at the beginning of April, and the process of studying the lessons will thus begin.”
Arens added that “Israel is certain that its interests will be honored and that care will be taken that the information does not pass into foreign hands, without consultations with us, within the framework of existing agreements.” He said he was convinced the information would be of value to the U.S. and would help strengthen the relations between the two countries.
Observers here said that one reason for the change in former policy may have been the knowledge that information might be leaked to the Americans anyway and Israel would gain no moral or political advantages from sharing it officially. Observers say that Israel now hopes to gain good will in the U.S. for providing the information without any quid pro quo.