WASHINGTON (Mar. 27)
Richard Murphy, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, Thursday ruled out any cut in U.S. aid to Israel as a prod to cease its “iron fist” policy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Testifying before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Murphy defended the State Department’s proposed foreign aid levels for 1989, more than a third of which would go to Egypt and Israel. He said it was important not to “drive a wedge” between Israel and the United States while the United States’ Mideast peace initiative is pending.
He also said that objections to an international peace conference “expressed in some Israeli circles are exaggerated,” apparently referring to Premier Yitzhak Shamir’s public criticism of that provision in the initiative. Murphy reiterated that an international peace conference could not impose a solution.
On the other sticky point in the initiative, getting Palestinian representatives to talk with Israel, Murphy said that “is not going to prove all that difficult to work out.”
He said there is a large pool of potential Palestinian negotiators, some of whom would be acceptable to Israel.