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February 28, 2013 2:23 pm

Israel Making Efforts to Save Missile Defense Funding Ahead of Sequester

avatar by Zach Pontz

Israel's Iron Dome aerial defense system in use against Palestinian rockets. Photo: IDF.

Israel is making a last-ditch effort to save part of the military aid it receives from the US ahead of the latter government’s sequester, which comes into effect tomorrow. According to Globes, Israeli officials realize that the country will take a huge hit from the U.S. sequester, and the question is what can be saved.

At this point it seems that Israel will focus its rescue effort on financing for the Iron Dome and Arrow missile defense programs, and accept the reduction in current military aid.

According to Globes: “Senior officials in the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Defense, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are drawing up a strategy for dealing with the problem, which is at the top of the agenda at the Embassy in Washington. One source believes that Minister of Defense Ehud Barak’s unscheduled visit to Washington on February 13, shortly after his previous visit, was related to the sequester.”

For Israel, US aid for Iron Dome is the paramount item, especially because of the probability the Americans will agree to preserve its funding. The US is very interested in Iron Dome, as the system could be very useful in defending South Korea from North Korea and defending strategic facilities in the Persian Gulf.

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According to Globes, Israel is now trying to exempt the missile defense programs from other programs slated for budget cuts “through intensive talks with administration officials and members of Congress.” Israel’s argument is that Iron Dome is the best tool for preventing a regional war. If Israel is perceived as lacking adequate defenses, Hezbollah might be tempted to launch missile barrages. Cutting a few hundred million dollars in aid could lead to a regional war with a cost that would shrink that amount.

Israel also believes that the Arrow 2 and 3 and David’s Sling are very important programs. Israel is seeking to avoid a total cut of $479 million in US aid, but is willing to forgo a $250 million cut in current military aid.

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