WASHINGTON (Jun. 28)
Israel will not change its policy in suppressing the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as long as it feels its security is being threatened, Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin said he told President Reagan on Tuesday.
“I explained the Israeli policy,” Rabin said after a 15-minute White House meeting with Reagan. He would not reveal what Reagan said in reply.
“I’m not saying that everyone here is in agreement with our policy,” the defense minister added. “But we are a free, independent state. When it comes to Israel’s security and Israel’s defense, we feel that we are free to act” as Israel sees fit “to prevent any damage to our future and our security.”
The brief White House meeting ended two days of official talks here for Rabin in which he met with Vice President George Bush, Secretary of State George Shultz, Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci and Lt. Col. Colin Powell, the president’s national security adviser, as well as members of Congress. He is scheduled to address the National Press Club on Wednesday before leaving Washington.
“I’m going back home quite satisfied,” the defense minister said. He said he is satisfied that the administration has agreed that U.S. military aid to Israel for the 1990 fiscal year will remain at the level it has been the past several years, a grant of $1.8 billion. (The administration is expected to submit the 1990 fiscal year budget before it leaves office. The 1989 fiscal year begins in October.)
Rabin said Israel is aware of the problems the United States is facing because of its enormous budget deficit, which has prompted foreign aid cuts and reduction in its own military budget. “As long as we will be able to keep, in reality, the same level of support, we’re satisfied,” he said.
The defense minister noted that he had stressed in all of his talks with administration officials the danger Israel faces from new sophisticated ground-to-ground missiles acquired by its Arab neighbors.
He said that Israel and the United States were about to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to permit Israel to develop the Arrow anti-tactical ballistic missile, which Israel wants to protect its cities against Soviet-made SS-21 missiles in Syria.
But he left unclear whether he or some other Israeli official would sign the MOU, which mainly relates to Israel’s participation in the Strategic Defense Initiative, more popularly known as the “Star Wars” program.
He said Israel wants the United States “to allow us the means” to demonstrate over the next two to three years that the Arrow can intercept the Syrian missiles.