Congress Says No to Wye River Accords Funding
Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - The US Congress effectively said "no" to funding the Israeli - Palestinian peace process in the year 2000. But official sources say the administration is committed to providing the promised funds.
The House and Senate reconciliation conference committee Monday approved a $12.6 billion Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill which made no mention of the $500 million pledged to Israel, the Palestinians and Jordan at the signing of the Wye River Memorandum.
Clinton is expected to veto the bill in order to restore the funds.
Larry Schwartz, Press Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, told CNSNews.com that the administration is "committed" to providing the pledge. "It's not a dead letter," he said.
Several Republican congressmen have said they support the peace process but are hard pressed to find the funds to provide for it.
President Clinton pledged $1.9 billion dollars in military and economic aid to help in the implementation of the Wye accords. It was to be distributed over a three-year period. Israel was slated to receive $1.2 billion dollars in foreign military financing, while the Palestinians were to receive $400 million in economic aid. Jordan was promised $300 million in economic and military support.
The Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak's office was unable to tell CNSNews.com just what effect the absence of these funds would have on the peace process and Israel's security.
The Wye River Memorandum was signed last year by then Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat in Wye, Maryland. The late Jordanian King Hussein left his hospital bed where he was receiving cancer treatment in order to push the two sides to an agreement and thereby secured a pledge for additional financial help for his country.
The $500 million to have been included in the year 2000 budget was to have been the second annual installment.
"Yes, it was defeated in Congress," Schwartz said, but the "administration intends to get the money," he added.
To that end, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright asked for the support of Jewish organizations in the matter. Speaking to a meeting of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations Albright called on the groups to lobby Congress to support the foreign aid package.