Jerusalem – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert confirmed yesterday that the Bush administration intends to provide Saudi Arabia with advanced weaponry, equal to about $20 billion, over the next ten years. A senior State Department official said last night that the administration hoped to bring the deal for congressional approval in the fall. Israeli officials also confirmed that the Israel was informed that American military aid to Egypt in the amount $13 billion would be delivered in the coming decade.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration also announced plans to increase its military aid to Israel of more than $30 billion for the coming decade. Israeli officials told the media that this allocation was made in order to allay Israeli concerns about the anticipated arms deal with Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Persian Gulf.
Since Saudi Arabia remains in a state of war with Israel and continues to fund Hamas along with the PLO terror groups in Damascus that oppose any peace agreement with Israel, the Bulletin asked the Israeli prime minister why Israel was not opposing military aid to the Saudis.
However, even if Olmert and his lobbyists in Washington do not necessarily oppose the Saudi aid, U.S. congressional leaders say that they will try to block the deal.
Members of Congress told the Washington Post that they oppose any deal to Saudi Arabia on grounds that the kingdom has been “unhelpful in Iraq and unreliable at fighting terrorism.” King Abdullah has called the U.S. military presence in Iraq an “illegitimate occupation,” and the Saudis have been either unable or unwilling to stop their own citizens from committing suicide attacks in Iraq, congressional sources say.
The administration plans to sell advanced satellite-guided bombs, fighter aircraft upgrades and new naval vessels to six Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman, U.S. officials say.
Reps. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and Robert Wexler, D-Fla., said on Saturday that they will introduce a joint resolution of disapproval to block the deals when Congress is formally notified. They have seven Democratic co-sponsors.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Weiner said any arms proposal would find broad bipartisan opposition on the Hill. “The reputation of the Saudis has taken quite a beating since 9/11, and despite the fact that the administration has done everything to portray them as part of the moderate Arab world, members of Congress of both parties are increasingly skeptical.”
Under the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, Congress must approve major arms sales. In 1986, the threat of a joint resolution of disapproval played a role in persuading the Reagan administration to cut back an arms package to Saudi Arabia.
Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., a senior member of the House Foreign Relations committee who was also briefed last week, said a pivotal issue will be whether Israel maintains the “qualitative military edge” in the region.
Israel Kills Islamic Jihad Commander
Israel has killed the commander of the Islamic Jihad network in the Gaza Strip.
Omar Al Khatib was killed in an Israeli air strike south of Gaza City on Thursday. Palestinian sources said his jeep was struck by an Israeli air-to-ground missile.
Khatib’s two other colleagues were also senior Islamic Jihad operatives. They were not identified.
Islamic Jihad has been the leading Palestinian insurgency group in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The Iranian-sponsored organization was said to have conducted the bulk of missile strikes against Israel.
Israel’s military confirmed the killing of the 37-year-old Khatib, who escaped an Israeli assassination attempt on July 24. Military sources said Khatib, who planned an attack on the military base in Kissufim in June, was under intensive monitoring by Israeli intelligence.
“He carried out numerous rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and fired a large number of mortar-shells and anti-tank missiles at IDF forces along the Gaza Strip security fence and in the surrounding region,” an Israeli security source said.
Khatib’s deputy, Khalil Daifi, was also killed in the Israeli air strike. Daifi, 49, was said to have been involved in Jihad rocket attacks against Israel. The third Jihad casualty was identified as Ahmed Abar Al Al.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007