Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
I hereby transmit a bill "to authorize supplemental international security assistance for the fiscal year 1979 in support of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and related agreements, and for other purposes", and urge its prompt enactment. The bill authorizes appropriations of $1,470,000,000 to finance programs totalling $4,800,000,000.
The bill authorizes the President ( 1 ) to enter into contracts for the construction of air bases in Israel, as contemplated by the Treaty, to replace air bases on the Sinai peninsula, and (2) to furnish as a grant to the government of Israel $800,000,000 in defense articles and services for such construction. In addition, the bill authorizes appropriations of $220,000,000 to guarantee $2,200,000,000 in loans to Israel to finance procurement through fiscal year 1982 of defense articles and defense services.
For Egypt, the bill authorizes appropriations of $150,000,000 to guarantee $1,500,000,000 in loans to finance procurement through fiscal year 1982 of defense articles and defense services. In addition, the bill authorizes appropriations of $300,000,000 in economic assistance to Egypt.
The supplemental assistance to Egypt and Israel authorized in the attached bill will provide tangible evidence of U.S. dedication to the peace process. It will clearly demonstrate to the people of these two countries—more than words alone-that we will help them reap the advantages of peace. The costs set forth in the bill are directly related to implementation of the Peace Treaty. Swift Congressional action to enact the bill will demonstrate U.S. capacity to move quickly and decisively to support our friends in the Middle East.
Unless both Egypt and Israel are confident of their security, enduring peace can neither be solidified between them nor broadened to other parties. This legislation will demonstrate that while the United States continues as an active and responsive partner in the pursuit of a comprehensive Middle East peace we will continue to be sensitive to the security concerns of Egypt and Israel.
We believe the proposed security assistance legislation should be viewed as an integrated whole. All elements of the package—FMS financing, grant and economic assistance—complement one another in providing the type of comprehensive program called for under current circumstances.
Construction of air bases in Israel is not only a critical element in that country's security, but is essential in order for Israel to fulfill its undertaking to withdraw from the Sinai within the three-year period agreed in the Peace Treaty. This withdrawal is, of course, of vital importance to Egypt and to the continued momentum of the entire peace process.
The provision of direct assistance to Egypt will ensure that the Egyptians understand that our sensitivity to Israel's security requirements is paralleled by a concern for their security and national development. Provision of FMS financing to Egypt will enable the Egyptian government to begin modernization of its armed forces. In turn, this will enhance Egypt's capabilities to fulfill legitimate needs for self-defense to meet any threats which might arise.
Both Egypt and Israel face immediate economic problems as they enter the post-Treaty era. The financial cost to Israel of withdrawal from the Sinai will be substantial. For its part, the Egyptian government has an urgent and critical need to demonstrate to its people the economic benefits of peace. The proposed legislation will provide funds to move quickly to meet some new requirements; we likewise will work to accelerate implementation of our current programs.
Prompt and favorable action by the Congress on the attached legislation will provide the clearest possible signal of U.S. determination to support the results achieved thus far in the Middle East and will give impetus to the search for a comprehensive settlement. The peace process must not be allowed to languish. We seek your support for a good beginning designed to sustain momentum towards a wider peace.