WASHINGTON (May. 15)
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has adopted a $4.6 billion foreign aid authorization bill that includes language strengthening the Israeli-U.S. military supply relationship in a compromise reached between President Carter and key Committee members.
The bill, which is expected to pass easily in the Senate and probably also in the House without significant changes, authorizes $1 billion in military credits and $785 million in economic supporting assistance for Israel. Egypt is allocated $750 million in economic aid, Syria $90 million and Jordan $93 million. In addition, Jordan is earmarked for $131 million in military assistance.
The authorization bill sets the policy for the programs that are to begin next Oct. I for fiscal year 1978. They must be implemented by a companion appropriations bill which has yet to be drafted.
Without dissent, the Senate Committee approved a provision Thursday sponsored by Sens. Frank Church (D. Idaho) and Jacob Javits (RNY) that says: "In accordance with the historic special relationship between the United States and Israel and previous agreements and continuing understandings, the Congress joins with the President that a policy of restraint in U.S. arms transfers, including arms sales ceilings, should not impair Israel’s deterrent strength or undermine the military balance in the Middle East."
With Carter having specified co-production arrangements with Israel on certain weapons in a meeting with five Senators earlier Thursday, the Committee dropped the provision endorsing that point in the draft legislation. Furthermore, in a letter to Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D. Minn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Aid, Carter wrote: "I recognize the special responsibilities the United States has towards Israel and the particular consideration that must be given to our military arms and co-production arrangements with Israel."
The co-production arrangements, which Sens. Humphrey and Clifford Case (R. NJ) had offered as a provision in the bill, includes weapons such as the American F-16 fighter plane and Israel’s new Chariot tank, informed sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The President also noted to Humphrey that if co-production language were made a part of the law, it would create demands by other countries to become special clients. This, Carter said, would risk destroying the essence of his arms restraint policy he feels is supported by the American people.