The Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday approved President Carter's aid package for Egypt and Israel that will give those two countries loans and grants totaling $4.8 billion to help finance the costs of their new peace treaty.
The bill approved by the committee will require the appropriation of $1.47 billion in U.S. funds. The rest will be provided as repayable loans that do not need to be directly appropriated.
The committee approved the measure 10 to 1, but only after Chairman Frank Church (D-Idaho) and other members tried to indicate sympathy for public concern at the high cost of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
Church said he had asked the State Department to calculate what "the costs of war" in the Middle East had been to the United States in the past, and that the total was many times larger than Carter requested for this aid package.
The 1972 Yom Kippur war alone, Church said, led to a $2.2 billion appropriation for direct military grants to Israel to replace lost equipment-substantially more than the Carter package.
Church, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and others indicated concern over public reaction to the new measure. The State Department recently produced an internal study of public opinion polls also suggesting public uneasiness at the size of the aid package.
A few senators have said they sense strong public outrage at the size of the program. However, a recent random survey of about a dozen Senate offices indicated mail on the issue has not been especially heavy.
The bill approved by the committe authorizes $800 million in grant aid and military credits of $2.2 billion to Israel, and $1.5 billion in military credits plus $300 million in economic aid to Egypt. This is in addition to aid to both countries contained in the regular 1980 military and economic aid bills.
Traditionally, loans to Israel have been granted with the explicit understanding that half of their value will never be repaid, but no effort was made to include that forgiveness n this measure.