Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Moshe Arens, warned here that the sale of sophisticated American weapons to those Arab states still in a state of war with Israel threatens to “erase” Israel’s qualitative military superiority and thereby discourage Arab participation in the Camp David peace process.
The Israeli envoy, addressing 350 delegates to the American Jewish Congress national biennial convention, also claimed that Israel’s biggest concession for peace was not the just completed with-drawal from Sinai but its willingness to negotiate autonomy for the Palestinions on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, because the outcome of the autonomy talks are unptedictable.
TWO CONDITIONS ARE BEING VIOLATED
Arens agreed that the U.S. and Israel share not only democratic values but a “common interest in opposing Soviet penetration” of the Middle East. However, he added, “The fact that we share common goals does not mean that we must agree on the means to achieve them. We differ on the danger to Israel of American arms shipments to countries that are in a state of war with us. Such arms shipments violate the two essential conditions” of Arab-Israel peace.
“First, that because the United States and Israel act in concert, no Arab country can be hostile to Israel and still receive American military and economic aid; second, that Israel is strong enough to deter or discourage renewed Arab attack. Recent U.S. actions fly in the face of those two principles, threatening to shake the whole structure on which the Arab Israel truce is based.”
Arens referred specifically to the sale of AWACS reconnaissance aircraft to Saudi Arabia, a type of aircraft Israel does not have, and to present indications that Jordan will ask for — and the Administration will recommed–the sale of F-16 jets and Hawk mobile air defense systems to Jordan.
He said that the sale of such equipment to confrontation states, plus “the huge amounts of Soviet-supplied weapons they already have…means that Israel’s former qualitative edge is not merely eroded, it is erased. This can only tempt the Arabs to try once more to liquidate the Jewish State.”
VIEW OF THE AUTONOMY SCHEME
With respect to the autonomy scheme, Arens said; “No one can predict what those talks will decide. Some people say autonomy is a one-way street to a Palestinian state–and that would surely pose a mortal danger to Israel’s security. Thus, the open-ended agreement we signed at Camp David carries within it the possibility of great peril for Israel. Yet our country was willing to take the risk in the hope of bringing peace that much closer.”
Arens noted that to date no Palestinian Arab group has accepted the offer to negotiate autonomy. “That is because the Arabs of Judaea, Samaria and Gaza are terrorized by the PLO which has succeeded in assassinating numerous Palestinian Arabs who spoke out in support of peaceful co-existence with Israel, “he said.
U.S. JEWS MUST NOT BE SILENT
The AJCongress convention adopted a resolution declaring that American Jews must not be silent on American foreign policy for fear of arousing anti-Semitism.
In an apparent reference to criticism of American Jews for opposing last year’s AWACS sale to Saudi Arabia, the resolution deplored “the fact that Jews are singled out for disparagement as a community whose attachment to America is to be held under constant scrutiny. Other ethnic and nationality groups in this country–such as Greek Americans opposed to arms for Turkey–correctly and freely exercise their right to criticize aspects of U.S. foreign policy, with no one presuming to impugn their standing as Americans.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.