TEL AVIV (Oct. 29)
Finance Minister Moshe Nissim said Wednesday that Israel would not voluntarily give up any part of American military aid, but would have to accept a possible decision by the U.S. government to cut it.
According to Nissim, Israel is fully entitled to both economic and military assistance from the United States, because of the strategic role it fulfills. Israel is a strategic asset, possibly the only one the free world has in the Middle East, and it costs the United States much less than its expenditures in NATO, Nissim said.
He spoke at the annual seminar of the Treasury’s budgets department and was referring to speculation by the news media this week that Israel might willingly forgo about $80 million of the $1.8 billion of promised American military aid this year as a gesture toward Washington’s efforts to cut the federal deficit.
The Defense Ministry denied any such intention Tuesday. The Cabinet reportedly agreed last Sunday that Israel will insist on receiving its American aid package in entirety.
Moshe Arad, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, was quoted by the Jerusalem Post Thursday as denying press reports that he favored a voluntary cut in American aid. A statement issued by an Israel Embassy spokesman noted that economic and military aid was part of a formal American commitment to Israel.