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Jerusalem Correspondent Paul Adams
"A humiliating climbdown by the Israeli Government"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 12 July, 2000, 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK
Israel scraps China radar deal
The Phalcon system was to be fitted on Ilyushin-76 aircraft
Israel has cancelled a $250m contract to sell an airborne early-warning radar system to China.

The announcement was made by an Israeli Government spokesman at the Middle East peace summit being held at Camp David outside Washington.

The US Government had complained strongly about the proposed sale, saying the Awacs equipment could be used to track American jets in the area if hostilities broke out between China and Taiwan.

American Congressional leaders had threatened to cut $2.8bn in annual aid to Israel if the deal had gone through.

We are pleased to see that they have taken our security concerns into account in making the decisions

State Dept spokesman Joe Lockhart
Announcing the decision, Israeli spokesman Gadi Baltiansky said it had been taken against "the background of American objections".

"Israel will not do anything to harm the United States," he added, declining to comment when asked if Israel had caved in to US pressure.

Track and target

The advanced Phalcon system was to have been installed in Russian-built Ilyushin-76 aircraft.

Phalcon facts
Mounted on fuselage or on top of aircraft
Can be fitted on a range of planes
Provides full 360 coverage
Can detect low-flying objects hundreds of miles away
Works day or night, in all weathers
Faster and more accurate than conventional radar
Phalcon allows military planners to simultaneously track and target large numbers of aircraft and other targets from an airborne command post.

US defence officials had warned that the system would dramatically alter the regional strategic balance in China's favour in the event of any regional conflict.

There was also concern that the equipment could eventually enable Chinese forces to threaten US ships if Washington ever went to Taiwan's defence.

'Goodwill gesture'

Speaking in Jerusalem, Israeli Government spokesman Moshe Fogel said reports from the Israeli embassy in Washington had made it clear that the deal simply had to be scrapped.

The reports, he said, indicated that the row over the Phalcon system had begun to challenge several key assumptions regarding Israel's relationship with the US and its Jewish community.

US presidential spokesman Joe Lockhart welcomed the decision, saying US security concerns had been taken into account.

He also said the United States would not compensate Israel for its financial setback.

Another US official at Camp David described the move as "a goodwill gesture".

Correspondents say the airborne radar deal appears to have been a necessary casualty of the peace process and Israel's need to strengthen its hand on other issues on the table at Camp David.

China and Israel only established diplomatic ties in 1992, although military co-operation is believed to have begun secretly at least a decade earlier.

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See also:

13 Jul 00 | Middle East
US draws line on radar sale
03 Apr 00 | Middle East
US anger at Israeli arms sales
12 Jul 00 | Middle East
'Serious' talks at Mid-East summit
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