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Senators Urge Bush to Reject Idea of Cutting Aid to Israel

February 8, 1990
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

At least 70 senators have signed a letter to President Bush urging him to reject any proposal to cut aid to Israel and Egypt in order to help countries in Eastern Europe.

“Budgetary realities force us to make difficult choices, but retrenching on our commitment to assistance to Israel and Egypt would not be a wise choice,” said the letter, which was initiated by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Pete Wilson (R-Calif.).

The letter was a response to a suggestion by Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole (R-Kan.) that 5 percent of the funds going to the five largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid, including Israel and Egypt, should be used to help Eastern Europe and Panama.

“It is vital that the United States act, and act vigorously, to reinforce the democratic trends in the nations of Eastern Europe,” the senators wrote Bush.

“However, we should not and need not provide this support in ways which damage other foreign policy or security interests of the United States.

“In the Middle East, we should reaffirm the support of the United States for upholding our foreign assistance and commitments to Israel and Egypt,” the letter said.

It warned that “diminution of that support will send the wrong signals to the most extreme and violent factions in the area.”

The letter, which was signed by Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine), is evidence that there is little chance of any cut in aid for Israel and Egypt, at least this year.

The Bush administration’s 1991 budget, submitted to Congress on Jan. 29, includes the full $3 billion in foreign and economic aid for Israel and $2.3 billion for Egypt — amounts the two countries have received for several years.

The administration has expressed support for Dole’s call to give the president greater flexibility in foreign aid by not earmarking most of the allocations. At present, 92 percent of foreign aid and 82 percent of economic aid is earmarked.

But Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger told reporters last week that even if the earmarking was removed, Israel and Egypt would continue to receive the same level of U.S. aid.

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