US aid to Israel to decrease by $100 million

Bush budget plan part of agreement to phase out econcomic support but increase military funding.

bush budget 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
bush budget 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
US aid to Israel would decrease from $2.5 billion to $2.4b. in the 2008 budget proposal unveiled Monday by President George W. Bush. The reduction is part of a 10-year plan previously agreed upon by the US and Israel in which economic support is phased out but military funding increased. In 2008, the last year of the plan, economic aid - already down to $120 million in 2007 - would be cut out entirely, while military assistance would grow from $2.34 billion to $2.4b. The preliminary international affairs budget also continues the allocation of $40m. per year for the absorption of Jews from the former Soviet Union and $375,000 in scholarships for Israeli Arabs to study in the US. It also contains a new $500,000 appropriation for international narcotics control and law enforcement. Though the international affairs budget comprises the bulk of aid to Israel, other assistance might be channeled through the departments of Defense and Homeland Security. Congress, which has to authorize the budget as part of a lengthy approval process, could also add additional spending measures. Congress is not expected to oppose the requested international affairs allocations for Israel. The overview for the international affairs budget, which includes spending for the State Department and foreign aid, notes that appropriations for Israel and Egypt will be declining slightly as part of plans already in place, but that overall Middle East spending is increasing by 4 percent from its 2006 level. Of that, 93% is focused on those two countries plus Jordan and Iraq. Egypt would receive $1.31b. in aid; Jordan close to $500m.; and Lebanon a 21% increase to reach more than $800m., including boosting the international peace-keeping effort there. "The Near East region presents both challenges and opportunities to implement US objectives and bolster efforts at political and economic reform to achieve success in the Global War on Terror," the budget summary states. "The [fiscal year] 2008 request emphasizes continued investments in peace and security and political reform."