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House panel OKs $200 million military aid to Israel

Bill includes $50 million in humanitarian aid to Palestinians

House panel OKs $200 million military aid to Israel

From Ted Barrett
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Angered by Tuesday's suicide bombing in Israel, the House Appropriations Committee Thursday approved $200 million in new military aid to Israel, a sum that would raise U.S. aid to the country to $3 billion this fiscal year.

But to assuage White House concerns that the action could upset the delicate diplomatic balance in the Mideast, the panel also approved $50 million in humanitarian aid for the Palestinians.

The vote underscored political maneuvering on behalf of pro-Israel Republicans and Democrats in the House committee. In recent days they had jockeyed to provide additional money to Israel, each side afraid the other would get the political credit for assisting the Jewish state.

Before the latest bombing, White House officials thought they had put a lid on the effort. But the blast in Rishon Letzion, which killed 15 people, gave new momentum to the congressional push for more aid.

When it became clear that the money for Israel was going to be approved, Secretary of State Colin Powell called House leaders to ask them to add the money for the Palestinians.

The additional $200 million would go directly to Israel, already the largest recipient of U.S. international aid, receiving $2.8 billion this fiscal year.

The $50 million in new Palestinian aid would be spent by the U.S. Agency for International Development for humanitarian needs in the occupied territories.

The budget amendment, offered by Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Georgia, received bipartisan support.

The money would be tacked on to a nearly $30 billion supplemental spending bill President Bush requested for the war against terrorism and related needs.

The measure requires full congressional approval.




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