Magazine article Insight on the News

Israel Wants $20 Billion to Leave Golan

Magazine article Insight on the News

Israel Wants $20 Billion to Leave Golan

Article excerpt

Barely noticed by Congress, U.S. and Israeli diplomats are quietly discussing a $20 billion aid package to compensate Israel for withdrawal from the strategic region of the Golan Heights, which currently provides a buffer between Israel proper and Syria. Prime Minister Ehud Barak is eager to conclude agreements with Syria and Jordan but is having difficulties convincing skeptical Israelis that a Syrian agreement is enforceable.

Under intense pressure from the Clinton administration to surrender the territory to Assad, the Israelis say that a military buildup will be necessary to have the capability to retaliate if Assad uses the heights of the Golan as a forward base for attack.

Even though Congress pointedly has omitted from the foreign-aid bill the $1.2 billion called for to implement Clinton's much-heralded Wye River agreement, the State Department already is promising the additional $20 billion -- as well as the permanent stationing of U.S. troops on the Golan as a buffer. Israeli diplomatic sources in Jerusalem tell Insight that Barak's shopping list includes:

* $10 billion for civilian relocation, some of whom have been there for 30 years;

* $5 billion for two heavy, high-readiness, fully equipped, manned mechanized divisions;

* $3 billion for 100 battle-ready Apache-Longbow-type attack helicopters;

* $400 million for 20 battle-ready CH53 helicopters;

* $500 million for one light, air-transportable, antitank brigade equipped with Hellfire or equivalent missiles;

* $6 billion for two squadrons of multi-purpose, long-range F15I fighters;

* $2 billion for 24-hour, 365-day AWACS and JSTARS surveillance aircraft;

* $1 billion for ground and airborne signals intelligence, or SIGINT;

* $2 billion for enhanced Northern Command GHQ, including air force, UAV, reconnaissance, artillery, [C. …

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