WASHINGTON (Oct. 30)
President Ford asked Congress today to appropriate for Israel $740 million in “security supporting assistance” and $1.5 billion in military credits for the U.S. fiscal year ending next June 30. At the same time, in submitting his long-delayed Middle East aid program, the President also asked $750 million in supporting assistance for Egypt and military and economic assistance totalling $253 million for Jordan and $90 million in economic aid for Syria.
In addition, the President recommended a special fund for this fiscal year for $50 million to “reinforce the peace process” in the Middle East and particularly to defray the costs of stationing American civilian technicians in the Sinai area. Security supporting assistance was described at the State Department as meaning both loans and grants.
In his statement to the Congress, Ford said that he believed the “hope for a lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute is stronger today than at any time in the previous quarter century. A new era also is opening in our relations with Arabs and Israelis. This security assistance program will give substance to these new relationships and help preserve the momentum toward peace.”
TO MAINTAIN SECURITY
The President also said that the “basic purposes” of his proposals to the Congress are “first to provide Israel with the assistance needed to maintain security and to persevere in the negotiation process.” Second, he said, it is to give “tangible expression to our new and fruitful relations with the Arab nations most directly involved and to encourage those which are seriously prepared to work for peace.” Third, it is “to encourage the peaceful development of the area, thereby reducing the incentives to violence and conflict,” Ford noted that fully 70 percent of the U.S. aid program for the current fiscal year is to be concentrated in the Middle East.
The Middle East program had been held up since last March after the President ordered a reassessment of U.S. policy in the Middle East following the failure of Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s mission to bring about a second agreement between Israel and Egypt in the Sinai. A second agreement finally was reached early in September.
U.S. WILL SEEK GOLAN PACT
The funding for the programs recommended by the President is much larger than the amounts finally authorized by the Congress last year which in itself exceeded the original Presidential requests. Israel last year was allowed $324.5 million in economic aid and $300 million in military credits. Egypt was granted $251.2 million. Jordan was provided with $177.3 million in military and economic grants and loans, Syria was given over $50 million in economic aid.
Ford said that the “step-by-step approach to negotiations offers the best prospects for establishing an enduring peace in the region.” He added that “we expect to proceed on an incremental basis to the next stage of negotiation within the near future.” He did not elaborate on this but it was made clear that the U.S. will seek to bring about a second Syrian-Israeli agreement on the Golan Heights.