As Israel faces a growing missile threat, and while Congress has approved additional funds to help Israel defend its citizens against future rocket and missile attacks, has President Obama decided to abandon the Jewish State?
In an exceptional occurrence, the White House issued a statement on Tuesday in which it said that it “strongly opposes” a decision by Congress to increase US funding for Israel’s missile defense systems.
Congress approved in May the procurement of $600.8 million, which will help Israel defend its citizens against rocket and missile threats and contribute to America’s missile defense programs – an additional $455 million above the administration’s budget request for the 2017 fiscal year.
The bill specifically authorizes $268.8 million in research and development funding for US-Israel cooperative missile and rocket defense programs, $62 million for procurement of the Iron Dome rocket defense system, $150 million for procurement of the David’s Sling missile defense system and $120 million for procurement of the Arrow-3 missile defense system.
In a lengthy letter sent to Congress in which it raised many objections to the House’s proposed National Defense Authorization Act, the White House says the funding does not serve the US defense purposes, and comes at the expense of other program the White House deems significant.
“Furthermore, the Administration opposes the addition of $455 million above the FY 2017 Budget request for Israeli missile defense procurement and cooperative development programs,” he letter says. The administration had requested approximately $100 million for Israel’s missile defense program.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a US-based pro-Israel lobby, responded to the administration’s objection by saying it was “deeply disappointed.”
“On a bipartisan basis, Congress has increased funding above administration requests this year, as it has done for well over a decade,” AIPAC said.
“These cooperative programs are critical for Israel’s defense against a growing array of missile threats and make an important contribution to US missile defense programs. We applaud Congress for consistently supporting these key programs, and urge their full funding in both the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization and Appropriations Acts.”
Jerusalem and Washington are still negotiating an agreement for US funding of Israel’s defense for the coming decade.
By: Max Gelber, United with Israel
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