CEOL - US Urges Israel Not To Aid Serbian TV

JERUSALEM, Nov 5, 1999 -- (Reuters Israel is violating an international embargo against Yugoslavia by allowing Serbian state television (RTS) to use its Amos-1 satellite for broadcasts, an Israeli newspaper reported on Thursday.

The newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth said U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright asked Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak during a meeting in Oslo this week to withdraw the facility.

A U.S. embassy spokesman in Israel said the United States had discussed its concerns with Israeli officials at "a senior level."

"There have been discussions between Israel and the United States on the use of the Amos satellite by the government of Slobodan Milosevic," the spokesman said.

"We would discourage anyone from facilitating the Milosevic government to spread its propaganda," he said.

NATO regarded Serbian broadcasting as a key part of Milosevic's propaganda apparatus and targeted transmitters and other installations in the alliance's air war during the Kosovo conflict earlier this year.

Eutelsat, the European satellite consortium, pulled the plug on RTS broadcasts in May after heavy pressure from NATO.

David Falk, the manager of Spacecom, the private company that sells Amos's satellite time, told Yedioth Ahronoth that his company had agreed only to broadcast a test pattern for RTS.

But he said RTS had violated the agreement and was using the signal to broadcast programs. He said he could not cut off the transmission as other European clients were using the same satellite transponder.

State-owned Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) launched the Amos-1 in 1996. Late on Thursday, Prime Minister Ehud Barak's office said the defense establishment had asked IAI to halt the broadcasts at Washington's request.

"There was a halt to the broadcasts during the period of the fighting but in a one-sided process without permission the Serbians resumed the broadcast without announcing in advance to Spacecom," Barak's office said.