Tehran,YJC. Cuts in foreign aid and direct defense allocations will take effect on Friday if Obama and Congress don’t reach compromise deal.
Israel is set to lose $143 million in foreign aid in 2013 and an additional $32 million in direct military assistance if U.S. President Barack Obama and Congress do not work out an agreement to prevent automatic sequestration by Friday.
The cuts reflect a 8.2% cut in the remainder of Israel’s foreign aid package for fiscal year 2013, and a 13% cut in the U.S. defense budget - excluding military pay - from which Israel receives direct assistance for specific military programs. Both aid packages are directed at military assistance and security collaborations, though they come from different sources within the U.S. budget.
Well-placed sources said that while aid to Israel enjoys wide support in Congress, it has not been publicly singled out either by U.S. lawmakers or by pro-Israel lobbyists during the ongoing and often acrimonious debate about sequestration.
The sources added that although the sequestration aims to cut the U.S. budget by $1.2 trillion over a period of ten years, from FY2014 onwards it would be possible to exempt Israel from the mandatory budget reductions.
The sequestration stems from the 2011 Budget Control Act, which paved the way from Congressional approval for raising the debt ceiling. It requires an $85 billion non-discretionary across-the-board cut in the U.S. budget for 2013 and subsequent years in order to reduce the budget deficit.
While both the President and most Republicans agree that the cuts may hurt the U.S. economy and create new hardships for millions of Americans, the two sides have been unable to reach any compromise on averting the cuts.
According to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, which is monitoring the possible impact of the sequestration on US foreign aid programs, the foreign aid budget would be reduced in 2013 by $2.9 billion. The cuts would not only include reductions in direct foreign aid to countries such as Israel and Egypt, but also reduce U.S. participation in humanitarian programs, including campaigns against malaria deaths and HIV/AIDS. $168 million would be cut from the security budget at U.S. embassies, a budget which has been under scrutiny since the Benghazi killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya in September 2012.
Source: Haaretz Daily