- The Washington Times - Monday, January 14, 2002

Israeli budget cuts
A Jewish-American group has urged the State Department to pressure Israel into cutting financial aid to Jewish settlements in the occupied territories by refusing to provide additional assistance to relieve Israel's budget problems.
Lewis Roth of Americans for Peace Now called on Alan Larson, undersecretary of state for economic affairs, to recommend that the Bush administration insist that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon deal with his government's budget shortfall by cutting expenditures on settlements instead of programs for "needy segments" of the Israeli public.
Mr. Larson is reviewing Israel's budget situation to determine whether additional U.S. assistance is needed, the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported on Jan. 3. Israel receives nearly $3 billion a year in U.S. aid.
"As a Zionist organization, [Americans for Peace Now] has consistently supported the regular U.S. aid package that is provided to Israel each year, and we have supported supplemental aid for Israel under special circumstances," Mr. Roth said in a letter sent Friday to Mr. Larson.
"It is, however, quite true that substantial funds are still going to the settlements rather than needy portions of Israeli society, and we continue to advocate for a change in [the] prioritization of Israeli budget allocations.
"In our view, these settlements undermine Israeli security and serve as an impediment to progress in the peace process."
Mr. Roth added, "U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer's observation that Israel prefers investing in the settlements rather than the disabled is, unfortunately, all too accurate."
Mr. Kurtzer's comments about the settlements created an uproar in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, last week, prompting one conservative legislator to call him a "little Jew boy" and accuse him of interfering in Israel's domestic affairs.
Zvi Hendel of the National Union Party apologized on Wednesday after other lawmakers denounced him for the racial slur.
Mr. Kurtzer was enunciating a long-standing U.S. policy on the settlements.

Help for Suriname
The U.S. ambassador to Suriname insists that the United States will help the tiny South American country investigate the 1982 murders of 15 critics of a military government.
"We are still willing to help Suriname," Ambassador Daniel Johnson said last week, after learning that the FBI would be unable to provide assistance in the Suriname investigation.
The FBI said its resources were stretched because of the investigation into the September 11 terrorist attacks, according to reports from Suriname.
Mr. Johnson urged the Suriname government to place a formal request for aid with a "specific request for assistance with specific questions."
Fifteen journalists, politicians, professors and labor leaders were killed under the government of dictator Desi Bourterse, who took power in a military coup in 1980. Civilian government was restored in 1987. The military again took power in 1990 but, under intense international pressure, agreed to civilian elections in 1991.

Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Today
Marek Belka, deputy prime minister and finance minister of Poland, who meets Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Deputy Treasury Secretary John Taylor, Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and Undersecretary of State Alan Larson. He also delivers an 11 a.m. lecture today at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Tomorrow
Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, who meets World Bank President James Wolfensohn, International Monetary Fund Director Horst Koehler and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman. He also addresses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. On Wednesday, he meets President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. He holds a 2:30 p.m. news conference Thursday at the National Press Club and travels to New York Friday to visit ground zero.
Thursday
Alexandar Djurisic, a member of the Montenegrin parliament, who discusses the future of Yugoslavia in a briefing sponsored by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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