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Thursday, 13 July, 2000, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Israel questions Phalcon trade-off
Phalcon radome
Battle of the bulge - the radar which set Israel and the United States at odds
The Israeli press is asking what political price will have to be paid for the cancellation of the Phalcon radar contract.

It will put ties with Washington back on track, they say, but what impact will it have elsewhere?

The independent largest-circulation daily Yedi'ot Aharonot suggested that the cancellation of the contract might backfire on Washington.

"Political sources in Jerusalem say the cancellation will deliver a strong blow to the good relations between Israel and China."

Israel might be able to revive the deal

"They fear China will respond by clinching arms deals with Iran, which recently showed interest in purchasing Chinese surveillance satellites."

The independent Ma'ariv speculated that the radar contract might yet be resurrected.

"Security sources in Israel said the fact that the deal with China was suspended rather than cancelled raises the prospect that after the US elections, Israel would be able to revive the deal."

"The Phalcon affair has barely died down yet, but the United States has already begun hinting that Israel should also cancel the sale of the Green Pine radar to India," Ma'ariv says.

Courageous decision

But members of the Israeli administration backed Prime Minister Ehud Barak to the hilt.

"The prime minister handled it courageously when he decided to cancel the deal," Israel's Ambassador to the United States David Ivri told Israel Defence Forces radio.

The White House
The White House objected to Israel's deal to supply China with the radar
"The decision has created a very good situation here. Many people told me our decision removed a serious obstacle in our bilateral relations.

"Longstanding friends felt extremely relieved."

Deputy Defence Minister Ephraim Sneh pondered the impact of the decision on relations with Beijing.

"Such issues are best discussed directly," Mr Sneh told Voice of Israel radio. "I think our explanations merit understanding."

US sensitivity

Asked why Israel didn't cancel the contract earlier to avert damaging relations with the US Congress, Mr Sneh replied: "We looked for other solutions. We did not necessarily see eye to eye with our critics.

"At a certain point, discussions in the US Congress reached a crucial stage and US sensitivity to the issue turned high and very emotional.

The reputation of our military industries has been damaged

Ephraim Sneh
"In the final analysis, we had no choice other than to make this decision."

Mr Sneh acknowledged that Israel's credibility would be undermined if its military deals were subject to US scrutiny.

"The reputation of our military industries has been damaged," he said.

"We will now have to double our efforts because the military industries are the basis of our military-technological edge. If they collapse, we will be in a very tough situation."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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See also:

13 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
China angry at scrapped radar deal
12 Jul 00 | Middle East
Analysis: A deal too far
12 Jul 00 | Middle East
Israel scraps China radar deal
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