US won't cut loan package for settlement building - yet
By THE JERUSALEM POST INTERNET STAFF
The United States will not deduct money the government spends on Jewish settlements and the security fence from the first $1.6 billion of a $9 billion loan guarantee package, a government official said Tuesday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said deductions for settlement spending could come from later installments. The official spoke as U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow visited the region.
Questions about cutting the guarantees by the amount being spent to build a security fence that travels outside the 1967 Green Line did not arise.
"There is nothing about the fence," the official said of the loan guarantee discussions.
Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman today sent a letter to government and cabinet officials, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon urging him to resist US pressure to keep the security fence away from West Bank communities such as Ariel.
"What is the meaning of this American pressure" on Israel, Nachman said.
Snow met Monday night with Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayad and the Palestinian economy and planning ministers. On Tuesday, he was to hold talks with Sharon and Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Sharon was to tell Snow that Israel needs $9 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to promote growth, said a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Early Tuesday, the Cabinet approved a NIS 217 billion ($48.24 billion) budget for 2004 that cuts spending by NIS 10 billion ($2.2 billion).
The United States had threatened to reduce the loan guarantee package by the amount Israel spends on a security barrier that cuts through territories outside the 1967 Green Line. In the 1990s, the United States deducted money the government spent on settlement construction from loan guarantees.
The Israeli official said deductions would again be made for settlement spending.
"When we went this year and asked for the $9 billion in loan guarantees, they (American officials) said the same conditions (as in the 1990s) will apply," the official said.
The official said there would be no deduction from the upcoming first installment of $1.6 billion in guarantees, only from future installments, and the cuts were not related to the 600-kilometer West Bank barrier, of which 150 kilometers have so far been completed.
(Associated Press contributed to this report.)
posted on 09/16/2003 10:14:26 AM PDT
(The bombing begins in five minutes.)
When was the date on that one.
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