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Menachem Begin Administration: Statement Objecting to U.S. Arms Sale to Egypt and Saudi Arabia

(May 16, 1978)

Speaking to a conference of the Israel Industrialists Association, Mr. Begin called the Senate decision to approve the Carter Administration's sale of fighter aircraft to Egypt and Saudi Arabia a "severe decision", which contradicted the commitment given to Israel in 1975. Mr. Begin felt that the decision would only increase the rigidity of the Arab states and make negotiations more difficult.

"The severity of the American Senate's decision which was made on the basis of the administration's proposal cannot be minimized.

"It is our duty to state today as well that we the State of Israel received an absolute and unconditional commitment (for the supply of these planes) two and a half years ago. To our regret during the course of time a condition was attached to this commitment to our regret, while a state of war still exists with two countries (which are involved in the deal) Egypt and Saudi Arabia - these countries are receiving sophisticated weaponry. I could have said that this decision will rigidify our enemies' stance. I will not make such a contention for a simple reason: Their stance is rigid anyway.

"Every friend and every citizen of Israel" continued the Prime Minister, "must understand that the conditions of peace are trying to be dictated to us: To dictate, to force us into a place from which it is not only difficult but impossible to protect the civilian population. And we have made a commitment in our generation to make every effort so that the civilian population shall not be attacked: Men, women and children.

"This is the duty of our generation, which saw all the horror and which established the revival with its very own hands and sacrifices, and thus we shall continue to aspire to peace and to exert efforts for peace."

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry