Israel is asking the United States for $8 billion (£5bn) in loan guarantees - and has sent to Washington one of the former army officers implicated in the 1982 Sabra and Chatila massacre of Palestinian civilians to persuade the Bush administration to grant the money.
Amos Yaron, who is now director general of the Israeli Ministry of Defence, was the Israeli military commander in Beirut when Lebanese Phalangist militiamen entered the refugee camps and slaughtered up to 1,700 Palestinian refugees. He ordered flares to be dropped over the camps, at the request of the Phalange, and Israeli soldiers blocked the exits to prevent civilians from leaving the area. Israel is pleading for the money - along with an additional $4 billion in military aid - on the grounds that a US invasion of Iraq will provoke further attacks against Israel.
It argues that some of the aid should be given to anti-missile defence systems for El Al airliners. Al-Qa'ida members tried to destroy an Israeli civilian aircraft with missiles at Mombasa last year, but narrowly missed it.