US Administration Asks Congress for Extra $450m for Military Aid to Israel
The US administration has asked the Congress Tuesday to grant extra aid to Israel - to the tune of $450 million - in addition to the $2.78 billion it already gets, reported Haaretz newspaper.
The addition is about half the $800 million in supplementary military aid that Israel wanted from Washington to help defray the cost of withdrawing from Lebanon and beefing up missile defenses against long-term regional threats, said the paper.
A source told the daily that the administration also asked the Congress to approve extra aids for Egypt ($335) and Jordan ($75) for their “moderate stands” in the Middle East crisis.
US President Bill Clinton said that the additional aid would strengthen US interests in the Middle East.
But senior Jewish sources in New York told Haaretz Wednesday that because of political tension over the deadlocked American presidential election, the outgoing Congress is unlikely to rush to approve Clinton's request.
Moreover, representatives are likely to be even more reluctant to approve funding that is not to promote the peace process, but is seen rather as a political gesture by Clinton to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, said the Jewish sources.
"The political conflict right now is terrible, the atmosphere is very difficult, and since Republicans will see their majority shrink in the next Congress, they are unlikely to make this gesture to Clinton," said one Jewish source.
According to the paper, the additional aid asked for Israel includes $250 million toward the cost of the Lebanon withdrawal, which Israel estimates at $925 million.
The remaining $200 is to develop defenses - such as the Arrow missile- against a potential ballistic missile threat.
The request also included a suggestion that Israel's military aid next year should include an extra $350 million, said Haaretz -- Albawaba.com
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