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Bush delays supplemental aid package

Jerusalem Post
August 14, 2002


Israel suffered a financial setback on Tuesday when US President George W. Bush rejected a proposal to add $5.1 billion, including $200 million for Israel, to a supplemental spending package.

The money, Jerusalem says, is desperately needed to cover shortfalls in the defense budget caused by the cost of battling Palestinian terrorism.

Bush, however, pledged to secure the money through congressional amendments at a later date.

Congress is in recess until the end of August.
"Some of the $5b. I have endorsed I will work to secure through amendments to the 2003 budget, like AIDS prevention money and support for Israel and Palestine," Bush said at an economic forum in Waco, Texas.

The Palestinian Authority is also due to receive $50 million in humanitarian aid.

"As I said, for truly pressing priorities such as AIDS prevention and resources for the Middle East, we'll send to Congress specific amendments to get these funds quickly," Bush said.

That means Israel may not receive the money until early next year.

Congress had overwhelmingly voted in favor of a $28.9 billion emergency spending package to support the war on terrorism, homeland security, and New York's recovery from the September 11 attack. But the congressional package exceeded Bush's initial request by $5.1b. In an effort to demonstrate fiscal responsibility, Bush decided not to approve the extra money.

"We were disappointed that the administration decided not to approve the money at this time, but we welcome the president's commitment to work with Congress to provide the money swiftly," Rebecca Needler, spokeswoman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said.

"This decision is unbelievable. Withholding these funds is a cynical attempt to avert attention from the administration's failure to revive a stagnant economy," said Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).

"With this announcement, the president turns his back... on our international obligations, including our commitment to Israel, our longest and best ally in the war on terrorism."

An official in Jerusalem, however, expressed confidence that the money would be approved soon.