US defence budget includes additional military aid for Israel 14Dec13 December 14, 2013

MEMO-Middle East Monitor    -    12 December 2013

barack-obama-2Lawmakers in the US Congress reached an agreement on Monday in both the House and the Senate on the proposed federal budget for 2014, which would allocate $520.5 billion for defence spending and $491.8 billion for non-defence.

The defence budget includes an increase in military aid to Israel that will be given as private aid, thus it will be addition to the $3.1 billion dollars already given annually to Tel Aviv.

The budget is still awaiting formal approval and the exact amount of additional aid to Israel remains unclear.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee had endorsed an increase of $488 million in military aid to Israel to pay for Israel’s procurement and development of additional rocket and missile interception systems. The newspaper noted that this sum is considerably higher than previously expected.

However, Reuters news agency reported that the additional military aid to Israel would exceed $500 million after a compromise defence bill proposed on Monday agreed to boost US spending on missile defence by $358 million to $9.5 billion, mandating another homeland defence radar and increased funding for US-Israeli cooperative efforts.

Israel’s Channel 7 News reported that US President Barack Obama had originally requested $220 million of additional private military aid to Israel to buy extra Iron Dome short-range interceptor missiles and the batteries they are launched from, which was approved.

According to the Israeli media network, in addition to the above, the supplementary aid will allocate $173 million in funding for US-Israeli cooperative missile defence programs, which includes “nearly $34 million to improve the Arrow weapon system and $22 million for work on developing another, more advanced interceptor,” noting that, “The move signals further cooperation between Boeing and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).”

The new budget will also allocate $117.2 million to Israel for the “development of the David’s Sling short-range ballistic missile defence system, which is being developed jointly by Israel’s state-owned Rafael Advanced Defence Systems and the US’s Raytheon.”

Furthermore, “An additional $15 million will be directed for US co-production of Iron Dome components. Raytheon has a joint marketing agreement with Israeli state-owned manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defence Systems for the Iron Dome system.”

Both the US and Israeli media are reporting that the supplemental funds are intended to protect Israel from the increasing threats coming from Iran, Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In addition to the supplemental aid, US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel has promised Israel that the existing $3.1 billion package of military aid would remain intact, despite US spending cuts.

The final vote on the budget is expected to take place before Congress leaves for the year.

Haaretz noted that, “Despite frequent disputes with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government regarding the peace process with the Palestinians and the Iranian nuclear threat, US President Barack Obama’s administration continues to be extraordinarily generous when it comes to granting military aid. Israeli defence officials see last week’s decision as further evidence of the strength of the relationship between the two countries.”

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