Defense Secretary Caspar WeinbergerDefense Secretary Caspar Weinberger will not visit Israel when he goes to the Middle East next month. Pentagon spokesman Henry Catto said that Weinberger has accepted an invitation from Saudi Arabia to visit that country early next month and may also go to neighboring Oman. Catto stressed that Weinberger does expect to go to Israel this year but “Israel has never been considered as part of the itinerary for this particular trip.”

Weinberger accepted an invitation to visit Israel this year when he and Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon signed the memorandum of understanding on the strategic cooperation agreement between Israel and the U.S. last November. The U.S. suspended the agreement after Israel extended its civil law to the Golan Heights. Weinberger has been especially critical of the Israeli action.

However, a spokesman for the Israel Embassy said today that Israel does not consider that it is being “snubbed” by Weinberger on his upcoming Mideast trip. The spokesman said that no date has been set for the Weinberger visit to Israel, which is still expected to happen some time this year.