Israel faces $3 billion gap if foreign aid does not pass

With this in mind, Israel's ambassador to the United States appealed to Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) last week to get Israel its aid before the Jewish state starts its new budget cycle on Jan. 1.

The Senate rejected the $13.1 billion foreign aid bill last month after anti-abortion lawmakers attached language to the legislation that would ban funds for family planning groups that support abortions overseas.

Although Israel received 12 percent of its aid in the first of two stopgap funding measures passed by Congress, lawmakers have yet to act on the remaining money.

Gingrich "understood the urgency for Israel to get the aid," an Israeli official here said after Israeli Ambassador Itamar Rabinovich met with the speaker earlier this week.

Without the aid, "Israel's books will not be in balance. We are worried how this will be seen by investors and banks," the Israeli official said. "The longer we have the money the more interest we earn."

Gingrich told Rabinovich he would try to resolve the issue by Dec. 15.

All observers expect the foreign aid bill to pass and expect Israel to ultimately receive its aid. But as Congress and the White House continue to lock horns over the federal budget, no one knows when the bill will move forward. Israel traditionally receives its aid under early disbursal procedures and, unlike many other countries, does not wait for the first of the year.

The foreign aid bill also includes $80 million in refugee resettlement for Israel, $2.1 billion for Egypt and $75 million for the Palestinians.