Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) – Israel has reiterated its request for billions of dollars in U.S. aid to offset expenses incurred in fighting its war against terrorism over the last 27 months. It says the money will also help it prepare for a likely U.S.-led offensive against Iraq, a senior official said here on Wednesday.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz presented the request for some $12 billion in military aid and loan guarantees during meetings with top administration officials in Washington on Tuesday. According to Israel radio, Israel wants $4 billion in military aid and the rest in the form of loan guarantees.)
Mofaz, who met with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and CIA Director George Tenet, was in the U.S. in part to coordinate U.S.-Israeli moves in the event of a U.S.-led strike against Iraq.
According to reports, the U.S. has promised to give Israel several days’ advance warning before it attacks Iraq. Israel is preparing itself for the high probability that Baghdad will retaliate by attacking Israel.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s spokesman Dr. Ra’anan Gissin said the military aid would be in addition to the more than $2 billion that Israel receives annually in military and economic aid from the U.S.
It is to be used for current security needs generated by 27 months of war on terrorism and particularly for the extra defense expenses used to prepare the country for an expected U.S. strike against Iraq, he said.
“We hope it will be expedited,” Gissin said. “[There was] definitely a favorable attitude.”
Gissin said the billion is actually a “line of credit” which Israel will use to purchase military equipment from the American defense industry, thus creating work for thousands of Americans. Only about 2-3 percent might be used to purchase goods in Israel, he said.
The loan guarantees would require the U.S. to vouch for Israel in order for it to obtain low-interest, long-term loans for development projects.
The U.S. has also decided to suspend discussion on the so-called “road map” to Israeli-Palestinian peace until after Israeli general elections on January 28, 2003, Gissin said.
“It’s not going to happen until after the election,” Gissin said.
The “road map” was given to Sharon on his last visit to Washington. It calls for an end to violence, and it is intended to lead the two sides back to the negotiating table so they may come up with a final solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Both sides have reservations about it, however. The U.S. had asked Israel and the Palestinians to present comments and recommendations on the original document by this month.
The U.S. was to have presented a draft version of the road map to members of the “Quartet” – U.S., European Union, Russia and the United Nations – which are scheduled to meet in Washington this week.
But there still remain differences between the U.S. and other quartet members on the issue of supervising the territories and on the methods Israel is employing to fight terrorism, Gissin said.
Courtesy Manfred Stricker togethernet