WASHINGTON (Mar. 23)
The announcement by the Pentagon yesterday that the U.S. will sell 200 Sidewinder missiles to Israel is not viewed by pro-Israel sources here as a signal that new arms will begin to flow to Israel again.
In fact, Steven Rosen, director of research and information of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), mentioned the sale of the anti-aircraft missiles when he charged last week that Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger has imposed “something just short of an arms embargo” on Israel since its invasion of Lebanon last June. He noted at the time that II F-15 jets and the 200 Sidewinders have been the only weapons authorized for Israel in recent months.
But Rosen stressed again today that the Administration is still holding up official notification to Congress on the sale of 75 F-16 jets to Israel although it gave Congress preliminary notification last May.
The F-16s, like the F-15s, were promised to Israel in 1978 as a result of the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. Administration spokesmen have repeatedly said that the decision on the F-16s will be made by President Reagan.
Yesterday’s Pentagon announcement came as the Defense Department officially notified Congress of the sale of the missiles to Israel. Congress has 30 days to object to the sale, an action considered unlikely.
The Defense Department noted that the missiles, costing about $16 million, are being sold as part of “long-standing U.S. policy of assisting Israel to ensure that it has the means of defending itself within secure borders.” The sale was announced a day after Israel’s Defense Minister, Moshe Arens, disclosed that Israel has agreed to share with the U.S. information gained on military material in the war in Lebanon without demanding any conditions in return.