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Kennedy Raps Reagan for Sale of Arms and for UN Resolution

June 24, 1981
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Sen. Edward Kennedy (D. Mass.) sharply attacked the Reagan Administration last night for its treatment of Israel in the aftermath of the Israeli raid on Iraq’s nuclear reactor June 7. He charged that the United States vote in the Security Council against Israel not only hurt Israel but also damaged America’s strategic interests in the Middle East.

Addressing more than 500 people at a dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel here, sponsored by the American Friends of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Kennedy justified the raid declaring, “I consider the State Department’s criticism of Israel’s decision in this difficult situation to be unwarranted, unwise and unjust.”

“The United States should not second-guess Israel in a dilemma that potentially involved a threat to the very survival of our best friend and ally in the Middle East. This issue is central to the security of Israel. It is an issue for the Israelis to determine for themselves,” Kennedy said, to the applause of the audience. “Instead of assailing Israel,” Kennedy added, “we should criticize the failure to forestall European suppliers from providing sensitive nuclear technology to Iraq.”


Kennedy took particular exception to the fact that the resolution condemning Israel’s raid was drafted jointly by the U.S. Ambassador to the UN and Foreign Minister Saadoun Hamadi of Iraq. He said, “Never again should an American Ambassador to the United Nations sit down with the Foreign Minister of Iraq and write a resolution to condemn the people of the State of Israel. Never again should our UN Ambassador, in front of all the world, compare Israel’s ef-

fort to protect its very survival with the Libyan invasion of Chad….compare what Israel did in its own defense to the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. And surely our UN Ambassador should never again compare what Israel did to the brutal Soviet invasion and destruction in Afghanistan.”

Kennedy, also derided President Reagan’s decision to suspend the deliveries of four F-16 aircraft to Israel as “bad in principal and bad in practice.” He called on the President the end the suspension “without further delay.” He stressed strong opposition to the Administration decision to sell advanced military planes and equipment to Saudi Arabia. “America must never give Saudi Arabia or any other nation the power to overwhelm Israel’s air defense,” he said. He vowed to “vote and speak and work against the AWACS sale and the other part of this dangerous arms deal with Saudi Arabia.”

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