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February 24, 1995 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-02-24

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

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Backing Off
On Jerusalem

JAMES D. BESSER WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

A

dministration officials may
be softening their strident
opposition to congression-
al efforts to hasten the
move of the American embassy
from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Two weeks ago, Secretary of
State Warren Christopher and
Mideast peace process coordina-
tor Dennis Ross made it clear to
visiting Jewish leaders that they
were unhappy about a letter by
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan,
D-N.Y., and Sen. Alfonse D'Am-
ato, R-N.Y., calling for the em-
bassy to be moved by the end of
1999.
That letter represented a tac-
tical compromise after pro-Israel
groups and Israeli officials ex-
pressed concern that legislation
on Jerusalem could endanger the
Mideast peace process.
But last week, the adminis-
tration apparently eased up a lit-
tle.
In testimony before a House
subcommittee, Mr. Christopher
repeated administration concerns
that any effort to force the em-
bassy move before the peace

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A

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process had dealt with the ex-
plosive issue of Jerusalem could
jeopardize the negotiations.
But he stressed that President
Clinton approves of the concept
of moving the embassy — even-
tually.
Administration sources indi-
cated that there is growing con-
cern that the issue is gathering
momentum in Congress, and that
continuing resistance on the part
of the White House could goad
congressional leaders to go be-
yond a simple letter.
"If the administration response
is considered insufficient, that
will increase the response for im-
mediate legislative action," said
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice
chair of the Conference of Presi-
dents of Major American Jewish
Organizations.
Last week, Rep. Charles
Schumer, D-N.Y., Rep. Benjamin
Gilman, R-N.Y., Rep. John Lewis,
D-Ga., and Rep. Bill Paxon, R-
N.Y., added to the pressure with
a House version of the D'Ama-
to-Moynihan letter.

pprehension is growing
over Israel's $3 billion in
foreign aid as the budget
brawl heats up in Wash-
ington.
Recently, Sen. Jesse Helms, R-
N.C., in an interview in the Hill,
a Capitol Hill newspaper, called
foreign aid "insanity," and sug-
gested that Israel's aid be repack-
aged through the defense
department.
There's nothing new in that
idea. But Mr. Helms' new posi-
tion as chair of the Senate For-
eign Relations Committee means
that his periodic anti-foreign aid
outbursts are now taken much
more seriously.
Jewish groups chose not to re-
act to the Helms interview — in
part because the real aid battle in
the Senate will take place when
the appropriations bill is debated,
not in the authorization process,
where Mr. Helms holds sway.
"For now, the view is that it's
better to let him vent than to pick
a fight on aid," said a leading pro-
Israel activist here.
Only Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-
N.Y., seemed eager for a fight; in

a letter to Mr. Helms, Mr. Nadler
suggested that the senator's as-
sessment of Israel's aid "suggests
a deep misunderstanding of the
importance of the U.S.-Israel re-
lationship and the critical role for-
eign aid continues to play in
promoting stability and peace in
the region."
But Dr. Mandell Ganchrow,
president of the Union of Orthodox
Jewish Congregations of America,
took a more positive view.
Dr. Ganchrow recently spent
more than an hour with Helms
and his staff. "He has always be-
lieved that foreign aid is a prob-
lem," he said. "But he totally
supports Israel; he made it clear
that if he can convince Congress
to put Israel's foreign aid in the
defense bill, he would strongly
support it."
More worrisome, Dr. Ganchrow
said, are the stark numbers on the
federal balance sheet; even with-
out the proposed balanced budget
amendment, which could come to
the Senate floor as early as this
week, efforts to slash the deficit
will produce enormous new pres-
sure on the aid budget.

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