An Israeli diplomatic delegation, currently visiting the U.S., is to ask for $2.2 billion in special aid for the intended Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip settlements and four northern West Bank settlements, Israeli official sources said on Monday.
The U.S. has already pledged in principle financial aid to Israel to for military outlays related to the disengagement plan and for relocating the settlers in the Negev and the Galilee.
One third of the money will go to relocating army bases from the Gaza Strip inside the Green Line, while the rest will go to developing special areas the Negev and the Galilee to relocate evacuated settlers.
The Israeli delegation which includes Israeli Prime Minister’s Office director-general Ilan Cohen, Finance Ministry director-general Yossi Bachar and military officials, will make the request to an American team headed by Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, the White House official responsible for Israeli affairs.
The Bush administration will have to submit the aid as a supplemental budget in the next few months, for congress for approval.
Observers believe disengagement plan will allow Israel to implement its plan to keep the major settlement blocs in the West Bank under Israeli control and annex them to Israel.
In an interview he gave to Al-Jazeera satellite channel, Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said when asked about the future of the West Bank settlements, tat they will be part of Israel.
‘Their future will be determined in the permanent settlement, but some of the settlement blocs will be on the Israeli side,’ said Mofaz.
‘The blocs and the Jordan Valley are important because Israel is a small country and needs reasonable borders and strategic depth, so that we can still exist here in another 50 years.’