A Senate appropriations subcommittee voted yesterday to increase military and economic aid to Israel, disregarding administration objections that a boost in assistance will anger Arab nations and endanger President Reagan's Middle East peace initiative.
Sen. Mark O. Hatfield (R-Ore.) told subcommittee members that national security adviser William P. Clark passed him a note in a White House meeting yesterday saying the increase in aid to Israel would "undermine the peace initiative."
In a separate meeting yesterday with House Appropriations Committee members, Reagan reportedly conveyed the same message, making a strong pitch for Congress to stick with the 1983 budget request for Israel, sent to the Hill before the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the massacre of Palestinian civilians.
By adding $125 million in economic assistance and $350 million in military aid, Hatfield said, "this subcommittee is sending a signal that it supports the invasion and continued occupation of Lebanon . . . . It is very difficult to justify the United States being the largest arms peddler in the world when we are cutting all these domestic programs."
The administration's request for $1.7 billion in military aid and $785 million in economic funds for Israel is part of an overall 1983 foreign aid package of $11.2 billion in budget authority. It appears to have little chance of passage in the lame-duck session.
However, the administration is mounting a vigorous lobbying effort to encourage the House and Senate to mark up the bill so it can serve as a basis for increasing overall military assistance funds in the stop-gap funding bill that must be passed before Congress adjourns in about 2 1/2 weeks.
House Appropriations Committee members, called to a meeting yesterday with Reagan, Vice President Bush, Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan and Clark, were urged to take up the bill. However, key Democrats on the foreign operations subcommittee said there is virtually no chance it will be considered.
Not only are members of Congress reluctant to deal with the sensitive issue of aid to Israel, but strong opposition also is developing to increases in military aid to El Salvador and other Central American nations.
"What little constituency there was for foreign aid in Congress has evaporated," Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.) said. "Military aid has gone up more than 80 percent from the base two years ago. That is loony." He cited considerable opposition to selling spare parts to Guatemala because of its human rights record and to granting the administration's $60 million military aid request to El Salvador.
The Salvadoran government, he said, is moving right and giving it more money to fight guerrillas might be "pouring money down a rat hole."
Rep. William H. Gray III (D-Pa.) said that Reagan has campaigned against foreign aid and that "this administration has not done a good job of stating to the American public why foreign assistance is necessary."
Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) said, however, that the administration has "pulled the stops. A major lobbying effort is beginning at this moment."
In the Senate subcommittee, Reagan's Central American aid package passed without discussion, although international development agency funds for multilateral aid through the World Bank and other institutions was cut by $155 million.
In the discussion on Israel, Hatfield cited allegations that the Israelis have used U.S. economic assistance to give loans to Jewish settlers on the West Bank.