TEL AVIV (Feb. 2)
Israeli and American delegations have successfully completed a week of private discussions here for construction of Voice of America (VOA) radio transmitters in the Negev, with Israel apparently winning its point that major contracts go to Israeli firms.
Yoram Alster, Director General of the Communications Ministry, expressed satisfaction with the agreement Sunday. Walter Roberts, who headed the American delegation, said more than $300 million would be invested in the project, at least half to be spent in Israel.
“It may very well be more than 50 percent will go to Israeli firms,” Roberts said. After legal advisers complete drafting work within a few weeks, Washington will call for bids from Israeli construction firms only.
The transmitters and antennas will be built in the U.S. and shipped to Israel for construction at the Negev site. According to Roberts, some of the electronics work will also be done by Israeli firms. Actual construction should begin within a year.
The negotiations, which were not publicized, ended Sunday night and the Americans return home Monday. The relay station, which Israel agreed several years ago to accommodate on its soil will transmit broadcasts of the VOA, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. The latter two, based in Western Europe, beam their programs to Eastern Europe.