President Carter will ask Congress for $200 million to add to the special military aid for Israel approved last year, the White House announced yesterday.
The announcement confirmed statements by Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman after talks here last week that U.S. aid would be increased. However, there was no mention by the White House of the more extensive economic assistance increases that Weizman was reported to have sought in Washington.
If Congress approves, the $200 million would be added to the $2.2 billion to military aid credits that Israel is to get over a three-year period in connection with the peace treaty it signed last year with Egypt.
"The decision was based on consideration of such factors as inflation and Israel's balance of payments deficit, and takes into account the fact that the Israeli government has instituted since last November extremely tough austerity measures designed to overcome these economic problems," the White House said.
The statement said President Carter was determined to hold down federal expenditures and that the increase in Israeli aid "reflects our sympathy and concerns for Israel's security and well-being."
The credits are repayable over 30 years. In addition to the loan package, Congress also approved a grant of $800 million to pay for relocation of two air force bases from the Sinai to the Negev Desert.
Aside from these special loans and grants, the United States has continued the military aid program with Israel that existed before the peace accord. Under this program, Israel has been receiving $1 billion a year in credits to buy weapons and $785 million to purchase commodities and other supplies.
Of that total, slightly more than $1 billion is earmarked as grants that Israel is not required to repay, Defense Department officials said.
Weizman expressed some understanding for U.S. resistance to a massive aid increase when he returned to Tel Aviv yesterday.
"In these days, when the United States itself is experiencing internal economics difficulties, it certainly is our duty is understand," he said.
Weizman said Sunday in an interview on "Face the Nation" (Cbs, WDVM) that Israel would be willing to help the United States establish more military bases in the Middle East to counter what he said was growing Soviet influence in the area.
On Saturday, Egyptain President Anwar Sodat was quoted in the weekly magazine October as saying that the United States should have a military presence in the Middle East, according to Associated Press.
He said Egypt was "willing to extend facilities to American forces" for defense of the region. Weizman said Sadat's offer "proves again that he is a great man."