Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Aipac Decides It Will Not Contest Reagan’s Plans for Awacs Transfer

June 20, 1986
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has decided not to contest the President’s plans to transfer five AWACS radar planes to Saudi Arabia.

In the absence of any inclination in Congress to pursue legislation blocking the delivery, the main pro-Israel lobby here settled for an appeal to the legislature to ensure that all conditions agreed on with the Saudis are met.

A statement issued by AIPAC following a meeting of its Executive Committee Wednesday afternoon, called on Congress to “exercise its oversight function” with regard to Saudi compliance with the conditions for delivery required by Congress and agreed to by the Saudi government.

Those conditions include the securing of AWACS technology, the assurances that the aircraft will not be used for purposes hostile to Israel, and Saudi cooperation in seeking Middle East peace.


“AIPAC urges Congress to seek firm assurances from the Administration that the AWACS technology remains secure and that these aircraft will only be used in the best interest of the United States, including not used in a manner hostile to Israel,” the statement read.

The expected decision came shortly after the President sent a letter to Congress certifying that all conditions for transferring the planes to the Saudis had been met.

An initial move in Congress to block the transfer was dropped following the unsuccessful Congressional effort to prevent a proposed missile sale to the Saudis last month. Although AIPAC had decided not to actively oppose that sale there was strong enough Congressional opposition to block it in a vote that was later overturned when the legislature failed to override the President’s veto.

Blocking delivery of the AWACS planes would require specific legislation both preventing the transfer and appropriating over $3 billion to cover the amount already deposited by the Saudis for production of the aircraft.

Recommended from JTA