Bush Seeks Billions in Aid for Mideast (AP) By BARRY SCHWEID WASHINGTON 02/03/05 5:14 PM)
AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS
AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS Articles-Index-Top
WASHINGTON - President Bush is asking Congress for $2.52 billion in
military and economic aid for Israel and $350 million to help the
Palestinian economy and security forces.
The request for Israel maintains that country´s position as the
largest recipient of U.S. aid, according to diplomatic sources. There
would be a slight reduction, however, of about $60 million from the
As Israel moves toward negotiations with the Palestinians, Bush
announced Wednesday night that he will ask Congress for $350 million
to improve their security forces and for jobs programs.
Already due to receive $75 million this fiscal year, the Palestinians
would get an additional $200 million by Sept. 30, and $150 million
for the bookkeeping year that begins then.
A request of $75 million for next year had been expected, but the
president is doubling that amount, said Edward Abington, a former
U.S. diplomat who is consultant to the Palestinians.
Some $50 million of the new money is ticketed specifically for
safeguarding border crossings between the Palestinian-held areas and
Israel, the diplomatic sources said Thursday.
Israel, meanwhile, has agreed to a reduction in U.S. economic
assistance to $240 million from $360 million, while U.S. military aid
is increased to $2.28 billion from $2.22 billion, said the diplomatic
sources, who discussed the situation only on grounds of anonymity.
Bolstering Palestinian security could be a key to peace hopes.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is insisting on an end to terror
attacks if he is to hold peace talks. Bush also is demanding a good-
faith effort to uproot terror groups in Palestinian areas.
The election last month of Mahmoud Abbas, a declared foe of violence
against Israel, is viewed by the Bush administration as part of a
trend toward democracy. Abbas succeeded the late Yasser Arafat.
Bush in his State of the Union speech Wednesday night listed the
Palestinians alongside Afghanistan, Ukraine and Iraq, as moving
toward democracy with elections.
"The beginnings of reform and democracy in the Palestinian
territories are showing the power of freedom to break old patterns of
violence and failure," he said.
"The goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side
by side in peace, is within reach, and America will help them achieve
that goal," Bush said.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who set off Thursday for a trip
to Europe, is due to fly to Israel Sunday night for talks with Sharon
and, on the West Bank, with Abbas.
Bush administration officials have concluded that security training
needs to be improved, and the Palestinians need more jobs and better
facilities, in order for peacemaking with Israel to have a chance.
Egypt on Wednesday summoned the leaders of Israel, the Palestinians
and Jordan to a summit meeting next week, and they agreed to attend.
Rice has no plans to attend, but Assistant Secretary of State William
Burns, who will be in the region with her, probably will represent
the United States at the session at Sharm el-Sheik. (Copyright 2005
Associated Press. 02/03/05)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY