Israel will consider canceling $250 million worth of military purchases from US companies if US aid is cut because of Israel's sale of an airborne early-warning system to China, reported The Associated Press, quoting Israeli officials.
The Clinton administration opposes a cut in aid to Israel.
However, US congressman Sonny Callahan, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, has said he may seek to withhold or delay aid to Israel because of the China deal, AP said.
Callahan initially said the $2.8 billion in annual US aid to Israel should be cut by $250 million - the cost of the spy plane Israel is selling to China, said AP.
However, on Tuesday, Callahan said he would only propose a delay in releasing the aid in hopes that this would give the Clinton administration time to solve the problem.
Israel Aircraft Industries has installed a PHALCON airborne early-warning system in a Russian-made Ilyushin plane.
China has an option for three more planes.
US officials said they fear the spy plane will pose a threat to Taiwan and upset the military balance in Asia, added AP.
Israel's deputy defense minister, Ephraim Sneh, was quoted as saying that if aid is cut over the China deal, he would recommend that some Israeli orders placed with US companies be canceled and instead filled in Israel.
"I will recommend that we forego the purchase of boots, clothing, textiles, foodstuffs - purchases which were diverted, unfortunately, to the United States, to the detriment of the lowest-paid sections of our population," Sneh told parliament in response to a legislator's question.
Sneh's spokesman, Hillel Fertouk, said the idea was to cancel $250 million in orders - the same amount Callahan threatened to cut.
But Sneh also said a decision by Congress to cut the aid would be "unprecedented in its gravity and hostility," and therefore he did not believe it would happen, according to AP - Albawaba.com
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