US Senate Mulls Unprecedented Aid to Israel

May 25th, 2012 - by admin

Yitzhak Benhorin / YNet News & Reuters – 2012-05-25 11:14:09,7340,L-4233005,00.html

US Senate Mulls Unprecedented Aid to Israel
Yitzhak Benhorin / YNet News

WASHINGTON (May 23, 2012) — The US Senate is currently reviewing the US-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this month. The bill proposes shared satellite intelligence, aerial refueling tankers, specialized munitions and surplus drawdown gear from Iraq.

A Senate aide said the bill has already amassed nearly 50 co-sponsors and is expected to pass “by a lopsided margin or even unanimous vote” once it reaches the Senate floor, the Defense News Weekly reported.

“There should not be one scintilla of light between the positions of Republicans and Democrats on the issue of the security of Israel,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson.

The bill was introduced by Jewish Senator Barbara Boxer of California and aims to extend US government-backed loan guarantees to Israel through 2015. It also urges expanded technology sharing and joint military exercises.

A detailed look at the bill indicates that US lawmakers are in tune with Jerusalem’s proclaimed needs manifested in expanded security aid in areas that are pertinent to a possible campaign against Iran.

The bill, for example, offers the Israel Air Force additional training opportunities in the US to compensate for Israel’s limited air space and encourages an expanded role for Israel within NATO, “including enhanced presence at NATO headquarters and exercises.”

It also proposes making surplus defense gear and services available to Israel, particularly those resulting from the US pullout from Iraq. Under the bill, the US will also strengthen efforts to prevent weapon smuggling into Gaza and threats infiltrating from the Sinai Peninsula.

Moreover, US legislators are also demanding to allocate additional weaponry and munitions and extend the time allocated for US war reserves stockpiled in Israel and expand bilateral cooperation in homeland security, counterterrorism, maritime security, energy and cybersecurity.

US to Transfer Additional $70M for Israel’s Iron Dome
Yitzhak Benhorin / Reuters

WASHINGTON (May 17, 2012) — The Pentagon will seek to provide Israel with an additional $70 million in the coming months for its short-range rocket shield, known as the “Iron Dome,” US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said after a meeting with his Israeli counterpart on Thursday.

So far, the United States has provided $205 million to support the Iron Dome, manufactured by Israel’s state-owned Raphael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. The system uses small radar-guided missiles to blow up in midair Katyusha-style rockets with ranges of 5 km (3 miles) to 70 km (45 miles), as well as mortar bombs.

But top Republicans have criticized President Barack Obama for what they described as inadequate funding of US-Israeli missile defense cooperation in his 2013 budget request released in February amid deficit-reduction requirements.

Panetta said the Pentagon would seek additional funding for the Iron Dome program over the next three years “based on an annual assessment of Israeli security requirements.”

“My goal is to ensure Israel has the funding it needs each year to produce these batteries that can protect its citizens,” Panetta said.

He said the $70 million would be provided this fiscal year, which ends in September.

“This is assistance that, provided Congress concurs, we can move quickly, to ensure no shortage in this important system,” Panetta said in a statement after meeting Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the Pentagon.

Following the meeting, Barak issued a statement in which he thanked the Obama administration for the aid and for its commitment to Israel’s security.

As of April, Israel had deployed three operating units of the system, which helped thwart Palestinian rocket salvos during a flare-up in fighting around the Gaza Strip in March. It has spoken of needing a total of 13 or 14 units to protect various fronts.

The system intercepted more than 80% of the targets it engaged in March when nearly 300 rockets and mortars were fired at southern Israel, saving many lives, a US Defense Department spokesman said on March 27.

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