The United States House of Representatives approved increased funding for Israel’s defense programs Thursday, despite the Obama administration’s opposition. The bill passed by a majority of 282 to 138.
The House passed a spending bill of $635.7 billion, $576 million of which is designated to Israel’s defense programs. The increased funding is $450 million more than the Obama administration requested. The president could veto the bill.
According to reports, $268 million is designated to U.S.-Israel cooperative missile and defense programs, $150 million for procurement of the David’s Sling missile defense system, $120 million for procurement of the Arrow-3 missile defense system, $72 million for procurement of the Iron Dome defense system, and $25 million in research and development for U.S.-Israel energy programs.
An additional $42.7 million will be reportedly designated to U.S.-Israel anti-tunnel technology. Israel announced plans on Wednesday to construct an underground cement tunnel on the Gaza Strip border. The 60-kilometer wall to cost around 2.2 billion New Israeli Sheqel.
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee last month submitted the proposal for the increased budget following the House’s submission of a proposal to provide Israel with $600 million in U.S. funding for its defense missile program, a $455 million increase in government funding for the 2017 budget. The request came following extensive lobbying efforts by the State of Israel and pro-Israel lobbyist groups, mainly the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Under the current memorandum of understanding between Israel and the U.S., signed in 2007, Israel receives a total of $30 billion in aid over a 10-year period set to expire in 2018. Israel had lobbied and pressed for $5 billion in annual funding, as opposed to the current $3 billion.
From the Obama administration’s letter to Congress:
“At a time when ISIL [ISIS] continues to threaten the homeland and our allies, the bill does not fully fund wartime operations. Instead the bill would redirect $16 billion of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds toward base budget programs that the Department of Defense (DOD) did not request, shortchanging funding for ongoing wartime operations midway through the year. Not only is this approach dangerous but it is also wasteful. The bill would buy excess force structure without the money to sustain it, effectively creating a hollow force structure that would undermine DOD’s efforts to restore readiness.”
Amir Tsarfati, a Jewish Christian, is the founder and president of Behold Israel, a news site to correct the scarcity in trustworthy reportage on issues and events impacting Israel, and to resolve the uncertainty about who or what to believe.
The views expressed in opinion articles are solely those of the author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by Black Community News.