White House to consider Israels aid request

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer: The Israeli request will be examined in accordance with the USs long-term commitment to Israel.

The White House hinted yesterday that the approval process for Israels request for $10 billion in special aid and loan guarantees would consider all aspects of bilateral relations.

In response to a question yesterday about the linkage former US President George Bush Sr. made between the 1991 loan guarantees and the settlements in the territories, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. The president will examine all aspects of our relations with Israel, before making any judgment or decision.

The statement implies that granting the aid will be contingent on commitments by Israel, hinting that Israel should hue to the US line on Iraq, operations in the territories and the US road map to peace.

Fleisher said a special US team would be set up to examine the Israeli request, in accordance with the USs long-term commitment to Israels security, prosperity and economic development. The team would include State Department and National Security Council representatives.

Fleisher noted that that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice had made no specific promises about the amount of aid requested during the meeting with Ministry of Finance director general Ohad Marani, Prime Minister's Bureau director Adv. Dov Weissglass and Ambassador to the US Danny Ayalon earlier this week.

Fleisher added, We are aware of Israels economic circumstances, and well work with Israel on the issue. Any decision will be contingent on Congressional approval.

In the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, Israel asked the US to provide $10 billion in loan guarantees to absorb the waves of immigrants from the former USSR. Then-President George Bush Sr. granted the guarantees with the restriction that the money raised with the backing of the guarantees be invested in project within the Green Line. Any investment in the settlements would be deducted from the guarantees.

Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on November 27, 2002

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