WASHINGTON (Jan. 31)
Sen. Henry M. Jackson charged today that President Nixon’s new budget request to extend military credit to Israel is “wholly inadequate, both as to amount and terms” especially at a “critical moment in the Middle East which has become the cockpit of the cold war.” The Washington Democrat said that “rather than using the existing broad and decisive authority granted last year in sect. 501 of the Defense Procurement Act, the Administration has chosen to treat Israel’s pressing military requirements in the routine manner of the Foreign Military Sales Act.” Jackson pointed out that the new budget asked $582 million for military assistance to 15 countries, including Israel, without setting forth specific sums for each country. Capitol Hill sources observed that with 15 countries sharing in the $582 million, Israel was hardly likely to receive the $500 million authorized for her last year.
It was Sen. Jackson who drafted Sect. 501 of the Defense Procurement Act which gave the President broad authority to authorize substantial military purchase credits for Israel. Credit terms under Sect. 501 are much easier than under the Military Sales Act. Moreover, the Administration’s request for funds under the Sales Act will have to run the gauntlet of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee headed by Sen. J. William Fulbright, the Arkansas Democrat who strongly opposed Sect. 501 of the Defense Procurement Act because of its open-ended aid to Israel.
Sen. Jackson said he was “dismayed by the failure of the Administration’s new budget to use the broad authority to extend military credits to Israel that was overwhelmingly voted by the last Congress.” He added: “The measure passed last year carried a strong and decisive policy statement aimed directly at Moscow that won the approval of 87 Senators. Now the Administration has decided gratuitously to request authority it already has, but without the sense of urgency the Congress took pains to emphasize last year, and which is as necessary as ever.” Jackson contended that “This action may be interpreted in Moscow as an indication of indecision and ambivalence at precisely the time when firmness and resolve are needed.”