JERUSALEM (Dec. 1)
Sen Daniel Inouye (D. Hawaii) said here Monday that the Iran arms sales affair need not damage U.S. -Israel relations, though he thought it possible that Israeli officials would be asked to testify before Congressional committees investigating the matter.
“I don’t see how Israel could have said no …if the government of the United States asked for its help,” the Senator commented to reporters after a meeting with premier Yitzhak Shamir. He was referring to the Israeli shipment of weapons to Iran which Israeli leaders insist was done with the approval of the U.S. and at its behest.
He observed that even if the request did not come from President Reagan directly but from a member of his National Security Council, “Israel would have naturally assumed it came with the President’s approval. Israel could hardly have telephoned the President of the United States to ask him if this indeed was the case,” Inouye said.
The Senator, who will become chairman of the key Appropriations Committee when the new Congress convenes in January, reportedly discussed the Iran affair with Shamir, including the possibility that Israeli officials may be asked to testify before Congressional committees.
Shamir told reporters that Israel has received no such request to date but indicated it would not be viewed askance. “Examinations and interrogations are not necessarily a sign of lack of confidence … At any rate, I am sure that very soon everything will be clear and everyone will see that Israel acted properly,” he said.
Inouye also reportedly discussed with Shamir a bill he is sponsoring along with Rep. Robert Kasten (D. Wis.) to reduce Israel’s interest burden on debts to the U.S. The bill “should become a reality soon,” he told reporters. Israeli sources said that if it does indeed pass through Congress it could save Israel more than $300 million a year in interest payments.