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March 18, 1994 - Image 41

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-03-18

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

N

The sense among some pro-
Israel activists is that Israel
will emerge with its aid in-
tact.
Congress will only be inter-
ested in tinkering with parts of
the foreign aid system that do
not work, and aid to Israel does
not fall into that category, these
activists argue.
But some in the pro-Israel
community continue to
worry that if aid to Israel is
formally justified solely on
the basis of the Middle East
peace process, the aid will
not necessarily be guar-
anteed in the long run.
"What if Israel is at peace
with some neighbors but not
Iran and Iraq, or if the peace
process breaks down com-
pletely?" one Hill staffer
asked. "The language (in the
administration proposal) is
so narrow."
Others worry that the for-
mulation in the new plan
discounts Israel's value to

Congress will only
be interested in
tinkering with parts
of the foreign aid
system that do
not work.

N

the United States as a dem-
ocratic ally in the Middle
East.
At a recent hearing of the
House Foreign Affairs
Committee, Rep. Eric
Fingerhut, D-Ohio, touched
on these concerns.
Mr. Fingerhut asked Mr.
Christopher whether placing
all the aid to Israel and
Egypt under the "promoting
peace" category might result
in "conveying a different
message than we wish to
convey about the strategic
importance of the democracy
and the open election pro-
cesses in the Middle East."
Mr. Christopher said that
"the first step here has to be
to end the conflict which has
just monopolized the atten-
tion of most of the countries
in that area."
He added, however, that
"in the longer term we ob-
viously will be promoting
democracy there as well."
While most of the pro-
Israel community has been
supportive of the Clinton
administration's approach to
Israel and do not think he
would act to harm the Jew-
ish state, they worry about
how this aid system — which
would place more decisions
in the hands of the executive
branch — would be used in

the hands of a less- sympa-
thetic administration.
"We basically trust the
Clinton administration to be
pro- Israel, but the law could
be in effect for 30 years like
the last one," said one
Capitol Hill staffer. "We are
going to want language that
is more protective of Israel."
The current foreign aid
system was enacted in 1961.
Another concern involves
the administration's desire
to eliminate "earmarks" —
the congressional designa-
tions of how specific money
is to be spent.
Some pro-Israel activists
say this battle is not new.
They note that past ad-
ministrations and Con-
gresses have fought over
earmarks and over who has
the final say on how U.S.
dollars are spent.
They also point out that
the fight over earmarks ex-
tends beyond aid to Israel
and even beyond foreign aid.
But other pro-Israel
sources say they are worried
about this latest battle to get
rid of earmarks, because
with fewer earmarks, and in
the context of foreign aid
reform, pro-Israel members
of Congress would have less
say over the specifics of
Israel's aid package.
The administration, for its
part, seems to have conclud-
ed that earmarks for aid to
Israel and Egypt are in-
evitable, at least for the time
being.
In response to a question
from Sen. Mitch McConnell,
R-Ky., at recent Senate
hearings, Christopher ac-
knowledged that "ultimate-
ly we did support an ear-
mark for Egypt and Israel.
We began the year hoping
those could be avoided and
that assurances could be
given by consultation, but
we did ultimately support an
earmark for Egypt and
Israel."
Mr. Christopher added,
"We'd like to start out with
a no- earmark bill, but I'm
realistic enough to know
that we'll probably end up
where we did last year."
"The Israel earmark is
around for a few more
years," predicted one Hill
aide, at least in part because
it is "one of the only main
consensus issues left for the
Jewish community."
For the still-strong Jewish
lobby, the aide said, "the $3
billion earmark is still the
rallying cry."
At a recent House hearing,
Mr. Christopher reiterated
the administration's support
for Israel and for keeping
Israel's aid levels constant
FOREIGN AID page 42

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