Israel has submitted an official request for special economic aid from the US. The $8-10 billion request includes a special grant and US guarantees for Israel government loans on overseas markets.
Israel is imposing a media blackout on discussions with the US about the particulars of the aid, fearing that publicity will harm the chances of obtaining a positive response from the US administration before the elections in Israel.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reportedly held a secret discussion with Ministry of Finance director general Ohad Marani and Ministry of Finance Accountant General Nir Gilad on the request for guarantees.
At a meeting last night with local authority heads, Sharon confirmed he is acting to obtain special US economic aid. Sharon expressed concern that “superfluous statements uttered in the heat of the primaries” are liable to harm Israel by delaying a positive response from the US administration.
Marani left in mid-week for the US, officially on a “lecture tour to raise money.” Marani will probably take advantage of his visit to the US to meet with US officials, particularly those in economic posts, to lobby for the aid and guarantee request. Marani is a former Israel economic minister in Washington.
In an interview yesterday with IDF Radio (Galei Zahal), Marani said, “The US is willing to help Israel.” Marani declined to provide details, saying, “I can’t comment on that. When I have something to say, I’ll say it. The US administration is willing in principle help Israel economically. We are considering several possibilities.”
According to Marani, US guarantees are not a step backward, nor would they affect Israel’s economic independence, although the correct solution for financing economic activity is through faster growth. “After two years of recession, we have negative growth. Growth may be positive in 2003, but at a low level,” Marani added.
Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on November 21, 2002