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Gerald Ford Administration: Statement Proposing Legislation to Fund Security Assistance Programs

(October 30, 1975)


Nothing so underscores how essential the American peacekeeping role is than our current efforts in the Middle East. Since the October 1973 War, our Middle East policy has been based on the following three principles.

--First, a firm resolution to work for a just and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict taking into account the legitimate interests of all states and peoples in the area, including the Palestinians.

--Second, a commitment to the improvement of our relations with all the states of the Middle East on a bilateral basis, maintaining our support for Israel's security while strengthening our relations with the Arab countries.

--Third, continued dedication to avoiding great power confrontation in the Middle East.

The October 1973 War was the fourth, and most devastating, round of hostilities between Arab and Israeli forces. Moreover, the impact of this last collision between opposing forces was not confined to the Middle East. The spectre of armed confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union hung over the crisis. Disruption of the economies of Western Europe, Japan and other nations was an important by-product of the conflict. In addition, the likelihood existed that the period immediately after October 1973 would merely represent a pause between the fourth and fifth rounds of conflict.

The quest for peace in the area was of the highest priority. Our most immediate objective was to encourage the disengagement of the contending military forces. Disengagement was accomplished in 1974. This year, we dedicated ourselves to the goal of withdrawal in the Sinai--and an agreement was negotiated as a result of the efforts of Secretary of State Kissinger. We believe that the step-by-step approach to negotiations offers the best prospects for establishing an enduring peace in the region. We expect to proceed on an incremental basis to the next stage of negotiation within the near future.

I believe the hope for a lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute is stronger today than at any time in the previous quarter century. A new era also is opening in our relations with Arabs and Israelis. This security assistance program will give substance to these new relationships and help preserve the momentum toward peace.

My proposals have three basic purposes:

--First, to provide Israel with the assistance needed to maintain security and to persevere in the negotiating process.

--Second, to give tangible expression to our new and fruitful relations with the Arab nations most directly involved and to encourage those which are seriously prepared to work for peace.

--Third, to encourage the peaceful development of the area, thereby reducing the incentives to violence and conflict.

The Security Assistance Program I am transmitting to Congress is heavily weighted with requirements to sustain the peace in the Middle East. Fully 70 percent of the program for fiscal year 1976 is to be concentrated in this region.

It proposes:

--For Israel, $740 million in security supporting assistance and $1,500 million in military credits. Israel's ability to defend herself and to relieve some of the burdens of her defense reduces the prospect of new conflict in the Middle East.

--For Egypt, $750 million in supporting assistance. Egypt has made the bold decision to move from confrontation to negotiation as a means of resolving the Arab-Israeli dispute. Its leaders also must cope with serious economic problems whose resolution the United States is in a position to assist.

--For Jordan, $100 million in military assistance grants, $78 million in security supporting assistance, and $75 million in military credit sales. This assistance will strengthen Jordan's ability to hold to the course of moderation it has consistently followed.

--For Syria, $90 million in security supporting assistance. This assistance will enable our development cooperation with Syria to go forward, furthering our efforts to re-establish more normal bilateral relations.

--In addition, I am recommending a Special Requirements Fund this fiscal year of $50 million. The fund is to be used to reinforce the peace process in the area and, in particular, to defray the costs of stationing American civilian technicians in the Sinai area.

All of this aid will contribute to the confidence that Middle Eastern nations must have in the United States if we are to maintain our momentum toward peace.

Sources: Public Papers of the President