JERUSALEM (Aug. 23)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir charged Thursday that certain elements in the region are trying to draw Israel into armed conflict.
He did not identify them but insisted that Israel’s major goal is to “prevent war or preempt it,” or if it does occur “to win it quickly and decisively,” he told a 70-member delegation of the United Jewish Appeal.
Asked by a reporter if his use of the term “pre-empt” meant that Israel was considering a pre-emptive strike against Iraq, Shamir said he was referring generally to Israel’s broad strategy, not the current crisis in the Middle East.
With regard to the present situation, he insisted, “Our aim is to prevent any military involvement of our country.”
Israel Radio explained later that Shamir’s address to the American visitors was written by his English-language speech-writer, who may have used the word “pre-empt” without thought to its military connotations.
The UJA leaders are trying to raise $420 million to help Israel absorb the influx of immigrants, mainly from the Soviet Union.
Shamir told them that immigrant absorption is the pre-eminent item on the national agenda.
This means providing jobs for the immigrants, because the specter of widespread unemployment might put a halt to aliyah, Shamir said.
KING HUSSEIN’S REMARKS ASSAILED
Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reacted more with incredulity than anger to Jordanian King Hussein’s charge this week that the “Zionists controlled the world media” and turned it against Iraq.
Netanyahu said that would be “merely laughable” were it not for the tragic consequences of similar past allegations.
Referring to the king’s suggestion that the Gulf crisis arose from Zionist intrigues, Netanyahu asked if “he wants us to believe that Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on Zionist orders.”
He expressed hope that this was just a “passing lapse” on the part of the Jordanian ruler, because it is in Israel’s interest that Jordan remain stable.