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December 21, 1984 - Image 84

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-12-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

84

Friday, December 21, 1984 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

€49-0-t7)405

40—BUSINESS CARDS

CAPITOL REPORT

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LOU'S

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WOLF BLITZER

Washington — Israeli officials
and American Jewish lobbyists
agree that they face a formidable
challenge next year merely con-
vincing Congress to approve
whatever economic and military
aid levels are proposed for Israel
by President Ronald Reagan.
There will be unusually strong
pressure to reduce the program
during the lengthy legislative re-
view process. Increasing the aid
levels — an glmost automatic
occurrence in years past — is
going to lie more difficult than
ever given. the mounting desire on
Capitol Hill to cut the federal
budget across the board, includ-
ing all sorts of significant social
and defense programs.
That's why the current high-
level economic discussions be-
tween the Reagan Administra-
tion and the Israeli government
are seen as so crucial. Israeli offi-
cials recognize that they no longer
have the luxury of simply assum-
ing that a friendly Congress is
going to improve the Administra-
tion's package.
Clearly, they want the Ad-
ministration to come to Congress
with as generous a recommenda-
tion as possible and then to fight
hard to win its full acceptance.
Reagan and Secretary of State
George Shultz are waiting until

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virtually the last minute before
deciding how much economic and
military assistance to propose for
Israel in the 1986 fiscal year
budget.
The Secretary, for example,
made clear to visiting Israeli
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir
during a meeting in New York on
Dec. 9 that the U.S. was still basi-
cally unimpressed by Israel's pro-
posed "structural" changes in its
economy. The Israeli government
is moving too slowly and cau-
tiously, according to U.S. gov-
ernmental experts.
The Americans, moreover, are
waiting to see how much of the
'budget cuts announced in
Jerusalem are actually im-
plemented.
The scope of the record Israeli
aid request has been widely pub-
licized. Israel is seeking $2.2 bil-
lion in military grants — as op-
posed to the $1.4 billion level ap-
proved in 1985 fiscal year appro-
priation. The Administration is
expected to split the difference,
probably accepting between $1.8
billion to $1.9 billion.
The Israeli economic request
also represents a hefty increase —
from the $1.2 billion approved in
the last budget to nearly $2 bil-
lion. In addition, Israel is seeking
an extra $750 million in economic
grants as part of an emergency
supplemental program attached
to the already-passed 1985 legis-
lation.
The total Israeli request, there-
fore, comes to almost $5 billion.
The Administration, U.S. offi-
cials said, is unlikely to come even
close to meeting such a large Is-
raeli request, although some
modest increase is expected. The
question of a 1985 supplemental
package is still up in the air.
For the time being, the Ad-
ministration has not even hinted
at linking any increase in foreign
aid to Israel to a widely antici-
pated new U.S. arms sale to sev-
eral "more moderate" Arab states,
including Saudi Arabia, probably
Jordan, and certainly Egypt.
In the past, various administra-
tions have dangled some in-
creased U.S. assistance in front of
Israeli officials in attempting to
win a more "understanding" Is-
raeli position on the Arab arms
sales. The U.S. hope has been that
Israel then would quietly ease the
concerns of its supporters in Con-
gress and the American Jewish
community.
Israeli officials have already
pointed to these likely sales as
further justification for their own
increased financial needs from
the U.S. Israel somehow has to
maintain its "qualitative edge" —
something the Administration
repeatedly says it supports but
which is becoming increasingly
more difficult and expensive in
the face of massive sales to the
Arabs from the Soviet Union,
Western Europe and even the
U.S. itself.
There is deep concern in Wash-
ington over the future of the Is-
raeli economy. U.S. officials rec-
ognize that a militarily powerful
and economically viable Israel re-
presents a strategic advantage for
the U.S. — and indeed the entire
West. Thus, the U.S. is clearly

• •

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