WASHINGTON (Jul. 8)
The United States should work toward incorporating Israel as NATO’s “strategic anchor” in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, the Heritage Foundation said in a policy paper published Monday.
“Washington should integrate Israel discreetly into the global anti-Soviet defense system to strengthen deterrence of the Soviet Union in the strategic area between NATO’s southern flank and the Persian Gulf,” it was suggested in the paper written by James Phillips, a senior policy analyst for the Washington-based conservative think tank.
“Joint contingency plans should be drawn secretly to keep Moscow and its regional allies guessing about the extent to which Israel is willing to commit itself to containing Soviet agression in a crisis.”
Phillips does not call for a formal defense treaty, since he notes that both countries prefer low key strategic cooperation such as is now in place. But he proposes specific steps which should be taken. Noting that Israel’s location makes it an “unsinkable aircraft carrier,” Phillips urged the U.S. to “seek access to Israeli air bases on a contingency basis.”
The Sixth Fleet should reduce its dependence “on problematic Greek bases” by increasing its use of Israeli ports and naval repair facilities, Phillips argues. He calls for regular U.S.-Israeli naval and air exercises.
OUTLINES ROLE FOR ISRAEL
In addition, Phillips urges that “U.S. medicine, fuel, ammunition and weapons should be secretly prepositioned in Israel to facilitate rapid movement to the Persian Gulf or NATO’s southern flank if needed.” He calls for increased military intelligence liaison and technical cooperation.
However, he stressed that “an active Israeli role in Persian Gulf contingencies should be minimized to ease Arab anxieties about Israeli involvement and Israeli anxieties about being drawn into conflicts in areas outside the bounds of its vital interests.”
At the same time, Phillips argues that “active Israeli support of U.S. efforts to help freedom fighters in Central America and Africa would be a powerful demonstration to the American public of Israel’s status as a special ally.”
Phillips rejects the argument that if the U.S. follows this course it would hurt its relations with the Arab countries. “Arab states have refrained from close cooperation with Washington even when the U.S. has held Israel at arms length,” he notes.
At the same time, he points out that “Washington’s ties to Israel have been an incentive for Arab leaders to improve relations with the U.S.” He also argues that close U.S.-Israeli cooperation will encourage “Arab states to opt for a negotiated settlement rather than military action in the Arab-Israeli conflict.”