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Will Israel Repay US Loans?

The front page article "Era of Automatic US Assistance to Israel May Be Drawing to Close," Feb. 10, is informative. However, I question the author's comment that in underwriting loans to Israel, "only a small percentage of the total would actually have to be budgeted to hedge against default."

While on the surface this may appear to be so, delving deeper into the history of our prior loans to Israel, whose economy is constantly teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, reveals that most of the loans have been either forgiven or turned into grants. Secretary of State James Baker recently alluded to this in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. An Associated Press article in the San Francisco Chronicle of Feb. 7, 1992, reports that after being urged by Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R) of New

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York, to go ahead with the guarantees, citing as support Israel's "excellent repayment record," Mr. Baker responded, "Generally speaking, that is because we appropriate the money up here with which to repay ourselves."

We should urge our legislators not to give Israel more funds which will be used to build settlements, on forcibly expropriated land, contrary to US policy. Paul Marthaler, Oakland, Calif.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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