Clinton, Netanyahu sign accord to deepen strategic cooperation

JERUSALEM, Nov. 1 (JTA) — President Clinton and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have signed a memorandum of understanding pledging to strengthen Israel’s defenses against the threat of ballistic missile attacks. The pact, signed during two ceremonies Saturday in Washington and Jerusalem, calls for the creation of a joint strategic planning committee to recommend how to upgrade the “U.S.-Israel strategic and military relationship” against the missile threat, the two leaders said in a joint statement. The agreement said the United States would boost Israel’s deterrent capabilities and called for raising the level of military and strategic relations between the two countries. Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said the pact was intended to counter possible threats faced by Israel from Iraq and Iran, which have been working to develop mid- and long-range ballistic missiles that would be capable of reaching Israel. The document states that the U.S. government would view as very grave any threats to Israel posed by the deployment of such missiles. The understanding states that the two countries would consult on the diplomatic or other aid that the United States would give Israel in the wake of any missile deployment. Israeli officials said the final details of the agreement were discussed by Netanyahu and Clinton during last month’s summit in Maryland, where Israel and the Palestinian Authority reached their latest accord for advancing the peace process.

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