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With Israelis already concerned about Republican threats to slash foreign aid, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin today downplayed fears that GOP firebrand Sen. Jesse Helms -- in 60 days chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- might go after the historic U.S.-Israel relationship. The source: Israel's biggest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, today cited a Helms staff trial balloon proposing that the U.S. forgive Israel's debt in exchange for a huge cut in its $1.2 billion annual economic aid package. Rabin -- on his way to the U.S. for a week -- told reporters that he'll meet with decision-makers to make sure that "the size of aid is maintained." There was no comment from Helms, who has pledged to stop sending U.S. taxpayer dollars down foreign "rat holes." That kind of a sweeping cut in aid to the long-time U.S. ally isn't likely to be politically acceptable, notes TIME State Department correspondent J.F.O. McAllister. "This is the last aid account that I'd expect to see cut," he says. "There's just too much unnecessary political damage to be done."Post your opinion on theInternationalbulletin board.