US aid to Negev and Galil far from certain

Negotiations will be confined to aid for moving IDF installations under the disengagement plan.

US aid to Israel for moving Israel Defense Forces (IDF) installations and other activity under the disengagement plan, and for developing the Negev and the Galilee, is far from certain, despite President George W. Bush’s declared support for disengagement and his public commitment to providing financial aid to the Negev and the Galilee. Future aid to the Palestinians is also questionable, Israeli and US sources in Washington believe.

The issues of aid for disengagement and to the Palestinian Authority (PA) were the focus of public attention in the US, following the appointment of outgoing World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn as international special envoy for reviving the Palestinian economy, the visit by an Israeli delegation headed by Ministry of Finance director general Dr. Joseph Bachar to Washington for talks on US aid, and a meeting between PA Minister of Finance Dr. Salam Fayyad and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday.

Israel has published no official announcement of how much aid it was asking the US for. According to leaks and estimates, the Bachar delegation will focus on an aid package for the security aspects of disengagement the estimated $500-600 million cost of redeploying the IDF following disengagement.

The Bachar delegation, which includes Israel Ambassador to the US Daniel Ayalon, Economic Minister to North America Ron Dermer, and senior Ministry of Finance officials, is expected to begin talks in Washington tomorrow. Another package totaling $1 billion for development of the Negev and the Galilee will probably be discussed on another occasion.

Published by Globes [online] - - on April 17, 2005

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