NEW YORK (Oct. 8)
Israeli Finance Minister Yigal Hurwitz said here yesterday that Carter Administration officials “are showing readiness” to reexamine American aid to Israel and take into account “the real burden” on the Israeli economy as a result of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
Speaking at a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Israeli minister said that in talks he and his aides held in the last few days with officials in Washington he found “that the Administration is aware of Israel’s needs.” He added, however, that this does not mean that all of israel’s requests are going to be fulfilled, but “they know the situation we are in and did not express surprise” about Israel’s request for increased American aid.
Hurwitz explained that the peace agreement with Egypt was “a heavy economic burden” on Israel. He said the burden has been further intensified as a result of inflation and the devaluation of the American dollar. But, he stressed, “none of us is considering revising the peace agreement. The only thing we want is the reevaluation of the American aid to Israel.”
THE STATE OF ISRAEL’S ECONOMY
Reviewing the state of the Israeli economy, Hurwitz said that despite the harsh austerity measures he imposed on the economy, inflation was not reduced to as low a level as he had expected. He said that the system of cost-of-living compensation in Israel and the ever increasing cost of oil are major reasons for the continuing high rate of inflation. He said Israel will spend $1 billion more this year for oil than last year.
But Hurwitz said his new economic policy produced “a dramatic improvement in Israel’s balance of trade.” He said Israel’s exports in the last year increased by 30 percent while imports decreased by 12 percent.
Hurwitz also noted with sorrow” the fact that “I don’t have the budget to build new housing for young couples, veterans, and new immigrants. ” The lack of housing may be a reason many young Israelis leave the country to come to me U.S., he said. But, he added, Israel cannot further weaken its economy. “We have to be thrifty and live within a budget, “he said. “We have to look seven times at each dollar before we spend it. ” He called for austerity measures in all government offices and government related organizations in Israel, among them the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund.
He said he believed that if Israelis live according to their means “we will survive economically.” He said Israel’s economy “would stand on its feet with the help of the Jewish people.