At an Air Force Day ceremony at a base "somewhere in Israel", the Israeli Defence Minister, Mr.
At an Air Force Day ceremony at a base "somewhere in Israel", the Israeli Defence Minister, Mr. Shimon Peres, told a passing out parade of new pilots, that the country's Air Force could strike beyond Arab missile defences to any distance and at any time.
He said that such air supremacy in the Middle East had helped make Israel strong enough to negotiate for peace without fear. The country was strong enough a state not to be afraid to negotiate without panic.
"It will remain strong and independent" said Mr. Peres, "whether the Arabs take our hands stretched out towards a settlement, or reject it, as they did in the past. It is a state with a strong people, striving for peace".
Mr. Peres is a member of Israel's team of negotiators working through the United States to reach an accord with Egypt on a further withdrawal of Israeli forces in the Sinai Desert. The other members are Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister, Yigal Allon.
The Defence Minister, who is regarded as a "hawkish" member of the negotiating trio, told the young pilots that the Air Force remained the central, powerful wing of Israeli forces, which "in the face of the build-up of the enemy's forces, is able to penetrate beyond the curtain of missiles to any target set for it, to any distance, and at all times, safeguarding the skies of the country, and, where necessary, instituting pre-emptive and decisive intervention in the enemy's systems".
The new Israeli-built Kfir strike aircraft -- which looks like a cross between the American Phantom and the Delta-winged French Mirage -- made an appearance during the Day's ceremonies. It wheeled and swooped slowly above the crowds gathered at the air base.