WASHINGTON (Feb. 5)
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee cut the Ford Administration’s recommendation in economic supporting assistance for Syria almost in half because the government in Damascus has not shown serious intention to negotiate on issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
This came to light yesterday in the Committee’s report to the full Senate on its authorization measure for the fiscal year 1976 of an aid program totaling $4.397 billion plus an additional 25 percent for the transitional budget quarter of three months that precedes the new fiscal year 1977 beginning Oct. 1.
“The Committee has generously funded the programs for Middle Eastern countries because it strongly supports the Sinai agreement and efforts to achieve further disengagement of forces and movement toward peace among all parties in the Middle East conflict,” the Committee’s report said.
EGYPT GIVEN GOOD MARKS
“The Committee has reduced the proposed program for Egypt by only $50 million despite budget stringencies because Egypt has responded positively toward U.S. efforts to secure peace in the Middle East and is beset with serious economic problems,” the report continued.
“The request for Syria was cut more severely, however, because Syria has not yet demonstrated that it seriously intends to negotiate even an interim, let alone more permanent arrangements looking towards a peaceful resolution of issues currently endangering peace in the Middle East.”
Military and supporting assistance programs for Jordan were reduced “because that country is the recipient of significant assistance from other Arab states, some of which enables Jordan to pay for its military purchases in the United States. Thus even military credits for Jordan are effectively grants since they are underwritten by third countries,” the Committee said.
Jordan’s allocations in the bill for fiscal 1976 is also $50 million in economic supporting assistance, $5 million less than the Administration’s request. The Committee cut in half the Administration’s request of $100 million in grant military aid to Jordan but allowed to stand the proposed $75 million in military credit and an additional $800,000 in military training costs plus $162,000 for international narcotics control. Lebanon was allowed $5 million in military credits and a grant of $200,000 for training.
ISRAEL MAY GET $2.81 BILLION
Israel was recommended for $740 million in economic supporting assistance and this was reduced by the Committee to $725 million. In addition, the Administration’s recommendation of $1.5 billion in military credits was left standing for Israel. Providing Congress and the President finally approve the programs the Committee has outlined, Israel will receive $2.5 billion in military credits and supporting assistance plus 25 percent of that amount or a total of $2.81 billion for the fiscal period of 15 months ending Sept. 30.