Israeli Chief of Staff Says There is More ‘noise’ in Israel over Cluster Bomb Affair Than in the U.s

There is more “noise” in Israel over the cluster bomb affair than there is in America, Chief of Staff Gen. Moshe Levy said Wednesday on his return from a week-long visit to the U.S. where he conferred with top Pentagon officials and met with American Jewish leaders.

Levy was referring to media-published allegations–firmly denied here–that Israel sought illegally to obtain cluster bomb technology in the U.S. “I heard more about it in reactions from Israel than I did from the U.S.,” he said.

He told Israel Radio that he found nothing in Washington to back up reports and speculation in Israel that the allegations originated with elements in the U.S. who wanted to harm U.S.-Israel relations. “America is a big country with many different trends and tendencies,” he remarked.

“I think all the noise (about theft of technology) is much louder here than in the U.S.,” Levy said. He also said his impression was that Washington does not fear a new Middle East war at this time. “I do not think recent terrorist activities and the Israeli air strikes in Lebanon indicate a new escalation.”

NO BASIC CHANGE IN ISRAEL’S POLICIES

The Chief of Staff explained that there has not been “any basic change in the situation and in (Israel’s) policies. We have always said that when we find terrorist targets we can attack, we will attack. And we know that whenever the terrorists can, they will try to infiltrate or to fire at our targets or to place bombs.”

He maintained that the Syrian deployment in Beirut was related to their own internal situation and Syria’s goal to control Lebanon. He also said he was told nothing new by the Americans with respect to the Lavi, Israel’s second generation jet fighter aircraft which the U.S. has opposed on grounds of excessive costs. He said the Americans have promised to re-evaluate their position and make it known by September or October. The Lavi, designed and built in Israel, is largely financed by the U.S.

CITES GOOD RELATIONS WITH U.S. MILITARY

While in New York, the Chief of Staff addressed a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. He described his meetings with Pentagon officials, headed by Admiral William Crowe Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He said it was “highly satisfactory” and confirmed that “Israel has very good friends in the American military.”

“We regard good relations with the United States military as most important for our defense,” Levy said. “It is always easier to implement the political decisions that are taken by the two countries when we enjoy–as we do–excellent contacts on the military level.”

He said he spent a week in Washington during which he was invited to Crowe’s daily intelligence briefing in the Pentagon and conducted “professional discussions” with leaders of the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force.

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