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Senate Adopts Bill Providing $650 Million More Aid for Israel

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The Senate voted 92-8 Wednesday evening to provide Israel with $650 million in additional aid to offset its added defense-preparedness costs during the Persian Gulf conflict.

The money for Israel was included as part of an emergency supplemental aid bill covering costs related to Operation Desert Storm.

A similar bill was approved overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives on March 7. But to receive any of the funds, Israel will have to wait for a House-Senate conference committee to iron out differences between the two versions.

Speaking after the vote, Sen. John Heinz (R-Pa.) said the bill “reimburses the people of Israel for a portion of the material costs inflicted on them” during the Gulf war.

But the bill covers only Israel’s extra military expenses and not property damage caused by the 39 Iraqi missiles fired at Israel.

The Senate took the additional step Wednesday of barring delivery of $55 million in aid to Jordan this fiscal year unless President Bush certifies to Congress that Jordan is taking positive steps to bring peace in the Middle East.

During the Gulf conflict, the White House suspended further deliveries of U.S. aid to Jordan this fiscal year, specifically blocking the transfer of $246 million in aid that was about to be released. That action was taken in response to King Hussein’s open support for Iraq in the war.

AMENDMENT ON SYRIAN JEWRY

The new effort to block additional aid won Senate approval in a voice vote on an amendment sponsored by Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.). A motion to strip the amendment from the bill failed by a vote of 57-43.

White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Wednesday afternoon that he was “very disappointed” with the Senate action, saying it would reduce Bush’s “flexibility” in foreign policy at a time when he is trying to bring about peace in the Middle East.

Also as part of the bill, the Senate adopted an amendment calling on Syria to allow its estimated 4,000 Jews to reunite with family members abroad. The measure, adopted by voice vote, was sponsored by Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.).

The eight senators who voted against the bill, all Republicans, were Hank Brown of Colo rado, Jesse Helms of North Carolina, Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Nickles of Oklahoma, William Roth Jr. of Delaware, Robert Smith of New Hampshire and Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming.

On another subject, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously adopted an amendment Tuesday that calls on the administration to encourage Arab nations to recognize Israel’s right to exist. The Senate resolution, introduced by Sens. Charles Robb (D-Va.) and Connie Mack (R-Fla.), has 51 co-sponsors.

A House version, sponsored by Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), has 71 co-sponsors.

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