Caspar WeinbergerSecretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger charged yesterday that it was Israel and not the United States which cancelled the memorandum of understanding on strategic cooperation signed November 30 between the two countries.

“I suppose it’s a matter of semantics,” Weinberger said on the Cable News Network’s “Newsmaker Saturday” program. “But our first knowledge that it was no longer in effect came from Israel.”

The Reagan Administration suspended the memorandum, signed by Weinberger and Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, following Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, an act the Administration contended violated the spirit of the accord because of Israel’s failure to consult the U.S. prior to the Golan action.

Following the suspension, Premier Mena-chem Begin, in a scathing attack of Administration policies toward Israel, charged that the U.S. had “abrogated” the memorandum and that as far as he was concerned, it was “null and void.”

(In Jerusalem, a Foreign Ministry official said Weinberger’s charge was off the mark. He noted that the extension of Israel’s law to the Golan had nothing whatsoever to do with the cooperation agreement.)

U.S. Unwilling To Reopen The Agreement

Meanwhile, the State Department issued a statement following the Weinberger interview declaring that the Administration remains unwilling to reopen the agreement.

“The President decided that we would not be able to go forward with the memorandum of understanding for the time being as the spirit in which the memo of understanding had been signed had not been upheld,” the Department statement said.

But the statement added, “We hope for a restoration of a spirit of partnership which would include consideration by each of the broader policy interests of the other.”