WASHINGTON (Dec. 2)
Congress has been asked by top Administration officials to appropriate the entire $2.2 billion in emergency assistance for Israel recommended by President Nixon. The House Foreign Affairs Committee, considering an authorization for the request last Friday, was told by Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Rush that “we attach great importance” to securing the full amount.because “we must make it clear to our friends in Israel and to those who have opposed her in the past that we will see to it that Israel has the weapons to defend herself effectively.”
The House Appropriations Subcommittee, led by its chairman Rep. Otto E. Passman (D.La.), had cut a half billion dollars on Nov. 26 from the President’s request. Rep. Clarence D. Long (D. Md.) told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he intends to press for restoration of the $500 million both in the full House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday and on the House floor when the measure comes up for a final vote. He expressed hope that others on the committee will rally to his support noting that when he tried to oppose the Passman recommendation in the subcommittee the support was not forthcoming.
In his testimony Rush also pointed out that in the Israeli-Arab negotiations ahead “the people of Israel must be convinced that we will provide them with the weapons needed to maintain the military balance in the area. The Arab nations must be aware of this as well.” Israel, he added, “cannot negotiate with confidence unless she is assured that her military equipment needs will not bankrupt her.”
CRITICAL QUESTIONS ASKED
Deputy Secretary of Defense William Clements and Admiral Thomas J.Moorer, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reinforced Rush’s testimony but a number of committee members asked critical questions concerning the amount of the appropriation, what parts would be in the form of grants and credits to Israel, whether the Middle East crisis would have arisen had U.S. policy been “even handed,” and whether Nixon would impound funds appropriated for other purposes to match the money legislated for Israel on the grounds that the overall U.S. budget has to be held down to help fight inflation.
When several members expressed skepticism about the justification for the amount without specific evidence in detail, committee chairman Thomas Morgan (D.Pa.) scheduled a closed hearing for tomorrow to enable the Administration to provide details on the type of equipment and materiel needed in Israel and what the Soviet Union is giving to Egypt, Syria and Iraq.
Rush said that the Arab countries incurred “substantial losses” that are being replaced by the Soviet Union. “We don’t know what the repayment terms for the acquisition of this equipment are.” Rush said, “but we see no sign that the question of repayment terms is in any way holding up the flow of Soviet arms into the area.”
Israel has purchased nearly $1 billion in equipment from the United States since the Egyptian-Syrian attack on Oct. 6, Rush said. “She will need substantial amounts in addition to this one billion dollars,” he added, “in order not only to replace her losses but to counterbalance the heavy flow of sophisticated Soviet weapons to the Arab armies.”