Israel will propose selling an advanced airborne warning system to China through a third country in hopes of reducing US pressure to drop the sale, reported The Associated Press, quoting an Israeli TV channel report.
Channel Two said Israel's ambassador to Washington, David Ivri, and deputy defense minister, Ephraim Sneh, would present the proposal to US administration officials in the coming days, said the agency.
The report, which cited unnamed Israeli defense officials, did not name a proposed third country.
Sneh's aide, Hillel Fertouk, denied the report, the AP said.
Israel has come under tough criticism in Congress for going ahead with the $250 million sale of the phalcon advanced warning system to China.
Some members of Congress say the system presents an immediate threat to Taiwan, and a potential threat to US air forces that could conceivably be involved in defending Taiwan, said the AP.
Israel has agreed to give up further phalcon sales to China, but fears that scrapping this one - after the Chinese have already paid $100 million toward the sale - would undercut its carefully cultivated reputation as a reliable arms dealer.
Selling the plane through a third party could allow Israel to lower the sale's profile in the United States, while saving face with the Chinese, the AP added. Congressional efforts last month to punish Israel for the sale by cutting its aid collapsed under pressure from the Clinton administration.
But the US ambassador to Israel warned that the danger of damage to relations still existed, according to the agency - Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)