Patriot transfer cements ties of U.S., Israelis WAR IN THE GULF

January 20, 1991|By Mark Matthews | Mark Matthews,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- A second Iraqi missile attack failed to draw Israel into the Persian Gulf war yesterday as the Jewish state cemented deeper ties with the United States by accepting U.S. personnel to operate Patriot defense systems.

Israel's continued restraint drew renewed public appreciation from President Bush, who spoke with Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir by telephone twice -- at 3 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

In a statement, the White House said President Bush told Mr. Shamir that he understood the "anguish" of the Israeli people and government.

Mr. Bush pledged "every resource possible to suppress and destroy" the mobile Scud missile launchers that continue to threaten Israel.

Israel's acceptance of U.S. personnel to operate Patriot defense systems, delivered yesterday from Europe, marked a major change in Israeli policy. Previously, Israel had insisted on operating even U.S. weaponry with its own people, saying it wouldn't ask others to fight its battles.

The U.S. help was essential at this point, however, since the Patriot systems require a lengthy training program.

Iraq hopes to drag Israel into the conflict in an effort to produce an Arab-Israeli clash that could weaken the Arab coalition allied with the United States.

The strategic cooperation between Israel and the United States in the past few days reflects a vast improvement in trust since even a few months ago, when ties were battered over the Temple Mount killings.

It underscores Israeli relief that the United States now is determined to win its confrontation with Iraq and thereby undercut a long-term threat to Israel.

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