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Rabin: Israel Will Be Candid with U.S. Regarding Its South African Relations

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Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin said Tuesday that Israel will be absolutely candid with the United States regarding its relationships with South Africa.

Rabin, briefing the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, referred to a Newsweek magazine report that he visited South Africa recently to warn the Pretoria government that Israel would have to curtail its relations because of pressures from the U.S.

The U.S. and Western Europe have adopted a policy of sanctions against the apartheid regime. In the case of the U.S., Congress overrode a Presidential veto of sanctions and requires the Administration to report by April on any military supply relationships between countries receiving American aid and South Africa.

According to reports leaked from the Knesset committee, Rabin observed that acts of Congress are “stricter than resolutions of the United Nations because they are backed by real sanctions.” Israel is the recipient of $1.8 billion a year in U.S. military assistance and cannot afford either to alienate Congress or embarrass the Administration.

Rabin said the issue was complex for Israel and it must maintain, above all, its ties of trust with Washington.

Israel’s relations with South Africa have become increasingly controversial. Likud members of the Knesset committee criticized Yossi Beilin, Director General of the Foreign Ministry for Political Affairs and a close advisor to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, for pressing his view that Israel must distance itself from Pretoria.

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