NEW YORK (Nov. 23)
Senate Minority Whip Alan Cranston (D. Calif.) said here yesterday that he did not believe the 98th Congress scheduled to take office in January will slash the level of U.S. military and economic aid to Israel. He conceded, however, that there was some concern among congressional members about policies of the government of Premier Menachem Begin following the massacre of Palestinians in west Beirut last September.
Cranston, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told some 200 persons attending the first Myron Mayer Lecture sponsored by the Public: Programs and Policy Committee of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies that “there is no diminution … in the American commitment in the Congress and the country, and in this Administration, to Israel’s needs.”
According to Cranston, in response to a reporter’s question, there is concern about the policies of Begin and his Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon, following the events in west Beirut. “But this should not change the situation or present a problem or cutback” in aid appropriations to Israel, Cranston said.
Israel received a total of some $2.2 billion in military and economic aid in the 1982 fiscal year. Some reports have indicated Israel will seek to have this boosted up to $3 billion to help offset some of the costs incurred from the war in Lebanon. Cranston did not indicate whether this boost in aid would be met with opposition.
WILL OPPOSE ARMS TO JORDAN
Cranston, who led the opposition last year against the Administration’s AWACS arms package sale to Saudi Arabia, said he was primarily concerned with the prospects of fighting the Administration on another arms package deal, this one to Jordan. He said he would oppose a sale of sophisticated weaponry to Jordan. The Administration had made no formal notification to Congress of any intentions to sell Jordan an arms package, nor has Jordan made an official request for U.S. weaponry.
Cranston’s remarks were part of an address that focused on the economic policies of the Administration, the nuclear freeze movement and arms reduction talks and his aspirations to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. He said he would make a declaration in January whether he will seek the nomination.