Israel Seeks to Ease US Anger over China Spy-Plane Deal
Israel sought Wednesday to ease a simmering row with its closest ally, the United States, over the sale of a spy plane to China after narrowly escaping US penalties over the deal.
"We don't want to do anything that would harm US interests, particularly its security," Foreign Minister David Levy told Israeli radio.
"We are trying to work out a solution with the Americans, and we are examining every possibility," he said, leaving open the option of canceling the controversial sale to China of an advanced early warning radar system worth 250 million dollars.
The US Congress had threatened to cut aid to Israel by a similar amount in protest, but a House of Representatives committee decided against any penalizing measures overnight, despite harsh words from some congressmen.
"You would think that Israel has acted against US interests but that is not the case," Levy said, saying the US reaction was "out of proportion."
Last week, Israel's deputy defense minister drew the ire of the United States after saying that the military could buy supplies from non-US sources if the US Congress made good on the threats to cut aid.
Washington fears that the sale to the Chinese of a sophisticated AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems), fitted to a Russian-made Ilyushin-76 transport plane, could tip the balance of force between China and Taiwan.
The contract also offers China the option to buy at least four more systems.
The United States provides Israel with about three billion dollars a year in aid, of which 1.8 billion dollars is for military aid -- the bulk of it tied to Israeli purchases of US arms and materiel - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)