- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 27, 2002

House Republicans yesterday delayed a vote on a resolution backing Israel's fight against Palestinian militants after the Bush administration said it could undermine Middle East peace efforts.
But another piece of legislation giving Israel an additional $200 million in assistance to cope with the current military crisis could be voted on next week.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell spoke to leaders of both houses of Congress on Tuesday and told them that the administration opposes the bills.
"What the secretary conveyed to both in both his meetings with the House and the Senate was the president's position, the administration's position, that further legislation on the Middle East was not going to be helpful to our efforts at this time," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday.
Asked if the administration would seek any additional money for Israel from Congress, Mr. Boucher said no.
"The administration sent up a [$27.1 billion] supplemental request already for the fight against terrorism," he said.
"They did not include any specific supplemental money for Israel in that. That remains the administration's position, that we're not asking or seeking further money for Israel as part of that supplemental."
House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, yielded to administration requests and said he would postpone his resolution supporting Israel, his spokesman, Stuart Roy, said yesterday.
"The White House called Tom and asked him to delay the resolution and he did that," Mr. Roy said.
The resolution, sponsored by Mr. DeLay and Rep. Tom Lantos, California Democrat, condemns Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and mentions additional support for Israel's fight against terrorism but does not name an amount.
"Mr. DeLay believes that we have to help Israel fight the war on terrorism and that means additional money," Mr. Roy said. "But what hasn't been decided is what is the proper vehicle or timing."
The administration has made strong statements in support of Israel during the crisis, but it also has pressed the Jewish state to end its occupation of Palestinian-held areas in the West Bank.
Earlier this week, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee held a meeting in Washington where strong and unqualified support for Israel was voiced by Mr. DeLay, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and President Bush's Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr.
But Mr. Powell and Mr. Bush fear that too much vaunting of U.S. political and public backing for Israel could prove embarrassing to Arab allies, who are already facing popular anger over Israeli military actions and apparent U.S. support for Israel.
The showdown over money loomed for the coming week as legislators prepared to draw up their own appropriations bill for the $27 billion supplemental anti-terror package requested by the White House.
Mr. DeLay favors inserting $200 million for Israel into the bill, Mr. Roy said. Israel already receives $2.8 billion in military and economic aid in the current fiscal year.
Rep. David R. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat and ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, said he opposed the idea.
"I don't believe in Congress end-running the president on anything in the Middle East," Mr. Obey said. "On this one, we ought to follow the president's lead."

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