The budget hawks elected in November take office in less than two weeks with a mandate to slash federal spending, and aid to Israel may not escape their claws, warned a top GOP lawmaker.Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen R-Florida, who will chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee, indicated that Israel’s $3 billion annual aid package may no longer be immune to across-the-board cuts in foreign aid. If the GOP leadership calls for all-embracing cuts, she told The Jerusalem Post’s Hilary Leila Krieger, “then that’s the way it is.” She told The Hill, the Capitol Hill newspaper, that foreign aid is on the chopping block, and “no country should be overlooked.”
DEMOCRATS FEAR Republicans will try to use Israel as a wedge issue – as then-majority leader Tom DeLay did in the 1990s – by pressing legislation and other initiatives taking hard-line positions on controversial topics like settlements, PLO diplomatic status and aid to the Palestinians to portray the White House and Democrats who don’t go along as anti-Israel.
One congressional veteran sees friends of Israel on the Hill divided into two camps – the Yesha caucus, which essentially advances the interests of the settler movement, and the Meretz caucus – battling over who loves Israel more.