Israel wants to stop Jordan missile deal

By Aaron Klein

For the first time since signing a peace treaty with Jordan, Israel has asked the U.S. not to sell anti-aircraft missiles to the Hashemite Kingdom.

Israel’s Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has personally asked the Pentagon to cancel its planned sale of AMRAAM air-to-air missiles to Jordan, security sources said yesterday.

Although Jordan is not considered a major threat to the Jewish state and the AMRAAM is a medium-range weapon that is more than matched by the Israeli arsenal, Israeli security chiefs fear its sale to Amman could encourage Egypt to make similar arms deals with Washington, tipping the strategic balance in the Middle East.

The advanced AMRAAM missile homes on targets accurately and the defense establishment said if any other state besides Israel gets them, it would impair Israel’s “qualitative edge.”

An Israeli source said: “Jordan has no defense reason to need these missiles. Clearly if Jordan was attacked we would do the work for them, so there is no justification to sell them the missiles.”

The deal is in advanced stages with the American administration already asking Congress for approval. The Pentagon told Israel it saw no problem in selling Jordan the missiles in view of the good relations it has with the Jewish State and since Israel does not regard Jordan as a significant threat.

Several Jewish organizations in Washington and New York expressed concern over the missile deal to the administration, and Israel asked senior congressmen to delay the transaction. Israel said it will try to stop the deal by persuading the administration, and not by asking the Congress to vote against the administration.

Israel is also examining various technical possibilities to ensure that the missiles are not directed against it, or to obtain an understanding that the weapons will not reach Egyptian hands.

American sources said they were shocked at Israel’s attempt to thwart the deal because Jordan has signed a peace agreement with Israel and its army does not threaten Israel. Certain Israeli officials have also objected to Israel’s bid to torpedo the deal, saying that sabotaging the deal could damage Israel’s relations with Jordan and that it was better not to pressure Americans on such borderline issues.