Washington (Dec. 22)
The House-Senate Budget Conference last week inserted a proviso in the foreign assistance appropriations bill which will allow Israel to receive all of its Economic Support Funds (ESF) money “no later than 30 days” after the bill is enacted.
This 30-day proviso was inserted at the insistence of Sen. Arlen Specter (R. Pa.) who argued that Israel’s foreign currency reserves are low, a situation which could affect Israel’s ability to borrow. Without this stipulation, Israel would receive its $806 million in ESF on a quarterly basis over the next year. This could make it necessary for Israel to increase its short-term borrowing at prohibitively high interest rates, costing Israel as much as $30 million. Specter said that letting Israel receive its ESF money after only 30 days “would be a small and relatively cheap way to help out a nation that is vital to U.S. foreign policy. Israel must maintain a strong and viable economy in order to remain the vital, democratic ally that it is to the U.S.”
The Foreign Assistance Appropriations bill will not be voted upon until Congress reconvenes January 24, 1982. It is not certain at this time how any U.S. sanctions imposed against Israel might relate to this legislation.