WASHINGTON (Dec. 19)
Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Dam indicated today that Israel will not get all of the increased aid it is asking for because if its economic austerity program works, Israel will not need it and because of the difficulty in increasing foreign aid in a time of cut-backs in U.S. domestic programs.
His remarks at a briefing for foreign reporters came as two teams of Israeli officials began two days of talks with State Department officials reportedly aimed at seeking $4.1 billion in economic and military aid for Israel in the 1986 fiscal year compare to $2.6 billion in the current 1985 fiscal year. Israel is also asking for an additional $800 million in emergency economic aid for 1985.
“With regard to the economic assistance, we are prepared to be of assistance provided there is a serious and credible economic program announced and implemented by Israel,” Dam said when asked about the Israeli request in this year end briefing at the Foreign Press Center here.
But he stressed that the economic program is one of which Israel will have to decide for itself, although the U.S. will feel free to comment on it. He said while it was “premature” to discuss the “numbers,” the figure may not be as high as reported if the Israel austerity program is credible. If it is not credible then Israel’s problems will not only be economic, he added.
ISRAEL NOT SPECIFICALLY TARGETTED
While stressing that he was speaking generally about foreign aid, and not specifically about Israel, Dam said the United States will be operating under an “extremely difficult budget environment” in which domestic programs are being cut and so it will “not be easy” to increase foreign aid to any country.
Israel is reportedly asking for an additional $800 million to the $1.2 billion it is receiving in the current year in economic aid. Israel is also asking that economic aid be increased to $1.9 billion in the 1986 fiscal year. In military aid Israel is receiving $1.4 billion which it would like increased by $700 million to total $2.1 billion in the 1986 fiscal year.
The U.S.-Israeli talks now going on are a continuation of the talks held at the State Department last month. One session is on the economic situation and is being conducted by the first formal meeting of the Joint U.S.-Israel Economic Group which was established during the White House talks between President Reagan and Israeli Premier Shimon Peres la? October. The United States is led by W. Allen Wall Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs. The second group of talks deals with military aid. At this meeting, the U.S. is reportedly giving its advice to the Israeli proposals made at the November meetings.