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U.s.-israel Free Trade Agreement Expected to Be Finalized Soon

Nancy Adams, the U.S. Trade Representative leading the negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Israel, said here that “we are in the ninth or tenth round” and expect to finalize the agreement in the next few weeks.

Addressing the national executive committee of the Zionist Organization of America, she pointed out that once the agreement is finalized it is submitted to both Houses of Congress. As Congress must act on the agreement within 60 days, Adams, who is the director of the Middle East Affairs Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, noted that the Free Trade Agreement may be in place by mid-July.

In its discussion on creating programs to assist Israel in solving its economic constraints, the ZOA national executive committee recommended several programs whereby American firms and individuals can invest in Israeli businesses and enhance Israel’s ability to further develop industry especially geared towards export.

One of the key ingredients to a strong export effort would be a duty free U.S. market for Israeli products. Adams noted that through the Free Trade Agreement all tariffs between the U.S. and Israel will be phased out over a 10-year period.

PROUD OF RESCUE OF ETHIOPIAN JEWRY

During its meeting, the ZOA leaders expressed pride and support of the return to Israel of thousands of Ethiopian Jews and expressed hope that the balance of Jews from Ethiopia will soon arrive in Israel. A resolution passed unanimously by the executive committee stated: “We commend the leaders of Israel and those responsible for the remarkable (modern day exodus) achievement. This demonstrates to the world the ongoing fulfillment of the Zionist dream.”

Donald Halperin, Economic Minister to the Israel Embassy in Washington, told the ZOA leaders that the rescue of the Ethiopian Jews and their absorption into Israel will cost the goverment of Israel an additional “quarter of a billion dollars over the next few years.” Halperin added that Israel will do all in its power to ease the adjustment of the newly arrived immigrants from Ethiopia.

In a related development, Ivan Novick, chairman of the ZOA Israel Projects, reported that a special meeting was held between U.S. Congressmen who were visiting Israel and leaders of the Ethiopian Jewish community at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The American lawmakers were Rep. Cardis Collins (D.III.), former chairperson of the Black Caucus in the House, Rep. Claude Pepper (D.Fla.), Rep. Anthony Beilinson (D.Cal.) and Rep. Lindy Boggs (D. La.)

At a luncheon meeting at the ZOA House, Pepper stated: “This dramatic rescue operation gives the lie to the oft-repeated Zionism is racism’ accusation as Israel was bringing in thousands of Black Jews from Ethiopia.”

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