House Spending Bill Earmarks $3.7 Billion in Military Aid for Israel, With Special Emphasis on Anti-Missile Systems
While political relations between the Obama Administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government may be rocky, the $1.01 trillion spending bill expected to pass through Congress in the next few days tells a very different story with regard to US-Israel bilateral relations.
Included in the bill, which will keep the federal government funded until September 2015, is a $3.7 billion allocation for Israel, composed of the $3.1 billion in regular annual military aid – in accordance with the multi-year agreement between Jerusalem and Washington – and an extra $619 million for Israel’s missile defense system program, including the Iron Dome anti-missile system which played a key role in protecting Israeli population centers from Hamas missile attacks during the summer war in Gaza.
This will be one of the largest-ever US military aid packages granted to Israel, Israeli business newspaper Globes reported.
The 2015 US spending bill requires that 55 percent of the components for Iron Dome be manufactured in the US. The US contractor for Iron Dome is Raytheon, which subcontracts some of the work to other manufacturers.
The Israeli contractor is Rafael Defense Systems Ltd. Raytheon has contracted with Rafael to find American suppliers that can provide the needed parts, a deal which makes the US funding for the system more politically palatable with American lawmakers, Defense News reported.
The House bill also includes $268 million for two other Israeli missile defense programs: Arrow, and David’s Sling, which Rafael is also collaborating with Raytheon to develop.
Rafael is said to be keen on selling Iron Dome to the US Defense Department, emphasizing that the system can intercept Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, as well as missiles. Each missile in the current Patriot system used by the US costs around $2 million to activate, in marked contrast to the Tamir missiles fired by Iron Dome, which cost just $100,000 each.
Israel is not the only Middle Eastern country that will benefit from the spending bill. Egypt is slated to receive $1.3 billion in military aid and $150 million in economic aid. Jordan will receive $1 billion in economic and military aid, in addition to U.S. humanitarian aid for the millions of Syrian refugees who have flocked to the kingdom in order to flee the brutal civil war between the Assad regime and its opponents.
The Palestinians fare less well under the bill, which will halt assistance to the Palestinian Authority if it becomes a member of the United Nations or of UN agencies without an agreement with Israel. It also prohibits funds for the Hamas terrorist organization which currently reigns in Gaza.