WASHINGTON (Nov. 23)
The House of Representatives voted last week to ban the sale of Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to any country that is not a member of NATO or designated a “major non-NATO ally.”
The House approved the ban by a 322-to-93 vote. The Senate, however, is unlikely to approve such a ban in light of tight scheduling before it adjourns in December. “I don’t think its’ going to happen,” said Tom Pines, legislative assistant to Rep. Lawrence Smith (D-Fla.), who supported the ban.
The ban would not apply to Israel or Egypt, both recently designated as major non-NATO allies, or to Turkey.
Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-N.Y.) urged unsuccessfully during the debate that the amendment be modified to allow Stingers to be sold to Bahrain and to any other country providing the United States with access to military facilities. The administration is considering selling Stingers to Bahrain.
BAHRAIN’S COOPERATION ‘ESSENTIAL’
Bahrain “is the headquarters for our Mideast force and whose cooperation is really essential in terms of our capacity to maintain our fleet in that part of the world,” Solarz said.
In addition, the House voted to prohibit the sale or transfer of F-15E aircraft to Saudi Arabia, although it permitted the sale of earlier, less sophisticated models. It also stipulated that Saudi Arabia may not have more than 60 F-15s at any one time.
The foreign aid authorization bill, which will likely not be completed until mid-December, provides Israel with $3.1 billion in aid over each of the next two fiscal years.
Should Congress not approve the budget agreement reached last week by congressional and administration negotiators to meet the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction targets, aid to Israel could be cut by 7 to 8 percent, or by roughly $230 million.