WASHINGTON (Sep. 1)
The Senate was voting late this afternoon on an amendment to the foreign military sales bill that would limit the amount of credit that can be extended to Israel for the purchase of weapons in this country. The amendment was proposed by Sen. J. William Fulbright, Arkansas Democrat and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Most observers on Capitol Hill expected it to be defeated. The Fulbright amendment would kill an earlier amendment drafted by Sen. Henry M. Jackson, Washington Democrat and already incorporated as a section of the foreign military sales bill. The Jackson measure would authorize the President to extend open-ended credit to Israel for military purchases. The bill as it stands provides $250 million credit for foreign arms purchases during fiscal 1970-71 in which Israel would share along with 12 other nations. Congressional sources said Israel’s requirements are several hundred million dollars in excess of its share of the credit funds.
Speedy passage of the foreign military sales bill was urged by Defense Secretary Melvin Laird today in a letter to Sen. John Stennis, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, in which Mr. Laird disclosed that the U.S. has been shipping undisclosed quantities and types of weapons to Israel since the Middle East cease-fire went into effect Aug. 7. Mr. Laird said that unless speedy action was taken on the measure, there would be no money to finance the shipments. The Pentagon opposes the Fulbright amendment. The bill’s $250 million credit stipulates payment over a period of ten years at prevailing interest rates while the Jackson amendment would permit the President to extend more favorable terms to Israel.