WASHINGTON (Oct. 28)
Sparked by Israel’s decision to export thousands of assault weapons to the United States, President Clinton has decided to ban future permits for similar sales.
But Clinton has not yet decided if he will revoke the permit for the government-owned Israel Military Industries to export Uzis and Galil guns for retail sale in the United States.
But an Israeli official hinted that it would follow the ban on its own.
“If there is an executive directive, Israel will act according to it,” the official said.
Confirming reports of Clinton’s intentions, White House spokesman Mike McCurry said Tuesday, “We now are seeing manufacturers who are able in a sense to clone assault weapons and slip underneath” the 1994 assault weapons ban.
“The president has been concerned about that.”
The Israeli company modified its guns just enough to escape that ban.
Clinton was expected to sign two directives on the issue as early as this week.
Israel’s decision to export the guns to the United States infuriated Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who, along with two-thirds of the Senate’s Democrats, urged Clinton to use his presidential authority to limit foreign- made assault weapons from coming into the country.
A similar letter from Rep. Walter Capps (D-Calif.) has attracted 22 House members.
Feinstein had also urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel the sale.
After Feinstein attacked an earlier letter from Netanyahu defending the sale, he withdrew his response and asked for more time to study the issue.
According to an Israeli official, a response was sent to Feinstein this week. The Israeli official would not give specifics, but predicted that Feinstein would be satisfied with the new letter.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms recently approved modified versions of the Uzi and Galil for import.
Clinton’s order could also affect at least a dozen other countries that have received similar permits to export their guns.
Feinstein, who was accused of singling out Israel, later urged other nations such as Russia, Greece and Bulgaria to refrain from exporting the weapons.