WASHINGTON (Oct. 17)
The foreign aid bill adopted in the closing hours Sunday night of the 95th Congress, carries new programs related to Israel and Soviet Jewry along with renewed support for both.
A two-step program on Soviet Jewry provides $25 million for resettling Soviet refugees in Israel. The State Department will, as in the past, administer this continuation of U.S. aid to the refugees in the Jewish State.
In addition, the bill provides for the first time funds to assist Soviet Jews who had emigrated to America. This legislation provides $20 million which private American voluntary organizations are required to match so the funds can be put into use. The Department of Health, Education and Welfare will handle this program.
Supporting a Senate bipartisan bloc’s “Marshall Plan” for the Middle East is another new U.S. program involving Israel. This authorizes $5 million for Middle East regional development. The measure, introduced by Sen. Howard Baker (R. Tenn.) also urges continued U.S. economic and military support for Israel.
Baker’s original measure asked for $50 million for regional projects to implement scientific and technical cooperation between Israel and her Arab neighbors. However, this amount was scaled down to a tenth of its size in the legislative process. Nevertheless, proponents see it as a good foundation upon which to build Israeli-Arabic cooperation after peace is agreed upon.
The Baker proposal is in line with the “sense of the Senate resolution,” now with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that calls for regional economic development programs. Senators Henry Jackson (D. Wash.), Frank Church (D. Idaho), Richard Stone (D. Fla.), Clifford Case (R. NJ) and Jacob Javits (R. NY) cosponsored it.
In its early consideration of the foreign aid bill, Congress voted economic assistance of $785 million to Israel, $750 million to Egypt, $93 million to Jordan and $90 million to Syria. In addition, Israel was allocated $1 billion and Jordan $125 million in military aid. The aid to Syria was approved in the Senate-House conference after Administration pressure was brought to bear that the money was needed to help the U.S. influence decisions in Damascus.