Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 13, 1982, Page 6
Facts For Your Files: A Chronology of U.S.-Middle East Relations
When asked by a reporter whether Secretary of State George Shultz's meeting in Washington on Nov. 23 with two deported West Bank mayors was the beginning of an indirect dialogue between the U.S. government and the PLO, State Department spokesman Alan Romberg replied: "No. It's not a beginning, a continuation, or any kind of negotiation, direct or indirect, with the PLO."
U.S. State Department spokesman John Hughes said he had seen "reports" that Israeli military authorities had directed West Bank administrators to step up political pressure on "extremist mayors" and to "neutralize pro-Jordanian" Palestinians. He commented: "We've expressed our concern about them (the reports) to the Israeli government. While it is not clear that the reports accurately reflect Israeli policy, we, of course, remain opposed to any actions in the occupied territories that have a negative impact on Jordanian and Palestinian attitudes toward the peace process."
Lebanon's President Amin Gemayel formally asked the United States, France, and Italy to increase the number of their troops in the multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon. The three countries have about 3,400 troops in the Beirut area, 1,300 of whom are U.S. marines.
Responding to the PLO's Nov. 26 communique which criticized President Reagan's Sept. I peace proposals but stopped short of formally rejecting them, U.S. State Department spokesman Alan Romberg said: "I would not regard it (the communique) as a rejection'' of the Reagan proposals.
The Pentagon formally notified Congress of its plans to sell the government of Saudi Arabia $1.2 billion of military supplies and services under three separate agreements. They include $700 million for the design and construction of an airfield at King Khalid Military City: $408 million for an ongoing project to install a command control and communications system for the Saudi navy and $113 million in spare parts for the Saudi air force.
The Senate Subcommittee on Foreign Operations approved a $2.6 billion aid package to Israel for fiscal 1983, which was $475 million more than President Reagan had requested.
U.S. State Department spokesman Alan Romberg said that aid increases for Israel voted by the Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee on Nov. 30 would be "disastrous" for U.S. interests because it would mean reductions in aid from other countries and because the action would raise "the substantial risk of being misinterpreted by any or all of the various parties to the (Middle East) peace process."
Special U.S. envoy Philip Habib—and his deputy, Mori-is Draper—returned to Washington for consultations with President Reagan on their efforts to negotiate the withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon and to implement the President's peace proposal for the West Bank.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Dam said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Lebanese leaders would be jeopardizing attempts to gain support from other Arab countries if they acceded to Israeli demands to make Jerusalem a negotiating site for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon. He added: "Insistence on a Jerusalem venue should not be made an obstacle to the start of talks..." He also said that the Administration has "neither accepted nor rejected" President Gemayel's request for more U.S., French and Italian troops in the multinational peacekeeping force.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved by a voice vote a foreign aid appropriations bill containing $2.6 billion in aid to Israel—including $910 million in economic grants and $1.7 billion in military assistance, of which half is loan and the other half grant. The Senate Subcommittee on Foreign Operations had approved these levels in a vote on Nov. 30.
The Reagan Administration, in a statement read by State Department spokesman Alan Romberg, criticized the Senate Appropriations Committee for voting to increase aid to Israel $475 million above its request, saying: "The President not only believes this amount ($475 million) is excessive in view of our commitment to Israel's security, but also that this increase—indeed, any increase—could imperil the strenuous effort we are making to find a settlement in Lebanon and to make progress in the broader peace process."
Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Yehuda Ben-Meir criticized the Reagan Administration saying: "For many years we haven't seen such an occurrence, where the Administration has actively tried to prevent the (U.S.) Congress from voting the aid that it felt fit for Israel."—He added: "What's even more serious is that the Administration is trying to relate this to political issues. The claim that more aid for Israel won't go well with the Arabs reminds me of the famous approach of appeasement."
White House spokesman Larry Speakes said, in response to criticism by Israeli officials of the Reagan Administration over the aid issue: "Frankly, in light of the President's proposed aid level to Israel, we are puzzled that Israel can call into question U.S. good faith on this issue."