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Jimmy Carter Administration: Letter to Six Congressional Committee Chairmen on the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty

(April 2, 1979)

I am writing to you to urge your immediate attention to the authorizing legislation and the 1979 supplemental appropriations request I will soon be transmitting to implement the Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt. This supplemental request requires urgent enactment prior to the likely consideration of other pending supplementals in order to avoid delays which could threaten timely implementation of the Treaty.

The legislation to be transmitted will provide $4.8 billion in special financial aid to the two countries over the next three years. This will be in addition to ongoing regular programs of military and economic assistance. Because much of the military financing will take the form of guaranteed loans, requiring only fractional appropriations, budget authority for the assistance package will be $1.47 billion. Estimated budget outlays over the next four years will total $1.1 billion, with $350 million occurring in 1979 and $315 million in 1980.

Within the $4.8 billion total for special aid, I am proposing that $3 billion be made available to Israel in two components.

—The first provides $800 million in grants to cover the direct costs of relocating two Israeli airbases now located on territory to be returned to Egypt.

—The second provides $2.2 billion in foreign military sales credit financing to Israel. These funds will finance other Israeli relocation costs and some upgrading of force structure consistent with the new territorial arrangements.

For Egypt, I am also proposing a two part aid package totalling $1.8 billion.

—The larger component provides $1.5 billion in military sales credit financing on the same terms offered to Israel. It will help Egypt maintain a modern well equipped military force, and play a responsible role in promoting stability and moderation in the region.

—In addition, I will propose to provide Egypt with $300 million of special economic aid loans under economic support fund authorities. These funds will help meet Egypt's large development needs and help satisfy the expectations of the Egyptian people for a better life.

As you begin your consideration of these proposals, I urge you to give particular attention to three elements which I can personally assure you are critical.

—First, the proposed assistance is evenhanded. The financing package I will request reflects a careful assessment of the near-term burdens of the treaty balanced against the military and economic circumstances of each country. Our future influence in the Middle East depends on the perception by all affected countries that we do not unfairly support any one country. Alteration of the proposed amounts or terms of assistance to either Israel or Egypt could impair this perception.

—Second, the amounts of aid proposed and the terms offered are the result of a careful balancing of foreign policy needs and fiscal policy constraints. Thus, while substantial U.S. assistance is required to assure successful implementation of the Treaty, I have made every effort to limit United States funding in light of our current budgetary constraints and my desire to avoid imposing any unnecessary burden on the U.S. taxpayer.

—Third, the proposed United States assistance is a coherent, interrelated package which requires urgent congressional action. Piecemeal treatment would threaten both evenhandedness and the careful balance between foreign policy and budget requirements. Delay in congressional action on the legislation could critically disrupt the carefully negotiated timing for Treaty implementation.

I regard this initiative as the most important foreign affairs proposal currently before the Congress. I am sure I can count on your support for favorable and prompt congressional action.


Sources: Public Papers of the President