U.S. Plans to Give Jordan $4.5 Million in Economic Aid

The United States plans to provide Jordan with $4.5 million in economic aid to be used for “developmental projects on the West Bank,” the State Department announced Thursday.

“This is the first time” the U.S. has provided such funds “directly to Jordan,” State Department spokesman Bernard Kalb said. He said that up to now all U.S. funds to improve “the quality of life” for the West Bank have been appropriated through the West Bank Fund which is administered by private international voluntary organizations. The appropriation for the current 1986 fiscal year was about $9 million.

Kalb said that Congress was notified Thursday that the $4.5 million is being taken from unspent funds in the 1986 foreign aid program. He rejected the implication that by providing the funds the U.S. was supporting Jordan’s claim to the West Bank.

“The United States has long supported efforts to improve the life of Palestinians in the occupied territory,” Kalb said. “The government of Jordan has embarked on its own efforts to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants. The U.S. believes such efforts are essential for developing a climate supportive of the peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israel conflict.”

This is why the U.S. wants to make “a contribution” to the Jordanian projects on the West Bank, Kalb said. He said examples of the Jordanian projects are expanding school systems, working with women’s cooperatives, water delivery systems and agricultural products.

It was unclear whether Israel had been notified in advance of Thursday’s State Department announcement. The announcement came as Vice President George Bush was in Jordan for talks with King Hussein.

The move could be seen as a U.S. effort to shore up Hussein’s standing on the West Bank in the hope that Palestinians can be found willing to join the King in negotiations with Israel.

Earlier this year, Hussein blamed Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat for the failure of his year-long efforts to put together a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. However, most West Bank Palestinians have sided, at least publicly, with Arafat against Hussein.

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