WASHINGTON (Jan. 16)
U.S. aid to Israel for the current fiscal year will be cut in order to meet the requirements of the Gramm-Rudman law passed by Congress last month, the State Department confirmed Wednesday.
The new budget-balancing law will force the Reagan Administration to trim security assistance to all countries by a total of $420 million, State Department spokesman Charles Redman said at a press briefing.
“As a result, every country that receives such assistance from us will see its funding levels cut this year,” Redman said.
He added that although the impact of the law on foreign aid levels for this year are still being evaluated, “we expect all cuts to be shared across the board by all countries, including Israel.”
Redman was responding to a question apparently raised by a report in The Washington Post Wednesday that Israel might be requested to return some of the $1.2 billion in economic assistance that it has already received. Like other recipients of foreign aid, Israel is awarded the total amount of economic assistance approved by Congress in one lump sum at the start of a new fiscal year.
According to the Post report, the 4.3 percent reduction that the Administration will apply to each nation’s assistance program might force the Administration to request that Israel return $51 million of what it has already been awarded. If Israel is not asked to give the money back, the same amount might be added to the budget cuts for other aid recipients, the Post report said.
SUGGESTED AMOUNT TO BE DEDUCTED
Citing State Department officials, the report suggested that the $51 million might be deducted from supplemental economic assistance that was tacked on to the fiscal year 1985 foreign aid bill. Israel has already received half of the $1.5 billion Congress approved in supplemental assistance, while the other half was to be handed over in 1986.
In addition, Israel has not yet received all of the $1.8 billion in military aid that it has been awarded for fiscal year 1986, and the report suggested that the Gramm-Rudman cuts could apply to that part of Israel’s aid package as well. When he offered the total figure of $420 million Wednesday, Redman referred to security assistance.
An Israeli Embassy spokesman declined comment on the State Department’s announcement, saying only that the new law was being studied. The assistance to Israel approved by Congress for fiscal year 1986 is to be carried over to the following fiscal year, according to the foreign aid bill. However, Israel has already requested a slight increase for 1987 to account for inflation.
Redman declined to specify today whether his reference to “across the board” cuts meant that all foreign aid recipients would have the same percentage of their aid deducted or if decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis.