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September 12, 2016 1:47 pm

On 9/11 Anniversary, US Envoy Praises ‘Close’ Counterterrorism Cooperation With Jewish State

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US Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

US Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The US and Israel enjoy “multi-layered” coordination in the fight against terrorism, America’s envoy to the Jewish state said on Sunday, on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Speaking at a counterterrorism summit at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro said, “We take Israel’s security extremely seriously and work very closely with our Israeli counterparts to counter a range of threats to Israel’s security from states and terrorist actors.”

For Israel, Shapiro said, “terrorism remains a real threat…and it’s a threat that constantly affects Israelis’ daily choices…Israelis show admirable resilience in the face of these threats, but frankly, they should not have to put up with them.”

Shapiro characterized the security ties between the US and Israel as “robust.” He cited bi-lateral training exercises involving soldiers from both countries, and Israel-based counterterrorism seminars attended by American law-enforcement officials — including the Orlando police chief and the San Bernardino County sheriff — following the ISIS-inspired attacks that occurred in those two places in the past year.

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The ambassador, who has served in the role since 2011, went on to say that America “has invested significantly in many of Israel’s most effective defenses against terrorist threats.” He highlighted the funding the US has provided for Israel’s multi-tiered aerial defense network — including the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow 3 systems.

“All of these efforts — with a multi-billion-dollar price tag — help protect Israel from the threat of rockets,” Shapiro said. “The success of Iron Dome demonstrates that the money is well spent. Iron Dome’s incredible success rate during Operation Protective Edge — successfully shooting down 700 missiles headed for populated areas — saved countless lives on both sides of the conflict.”

Furthermore, Shapiro asserted, “The fight against terrorists must always adapt to changing threats, which is why the IDF and our Department of Defense are developing anti-tunneling technology, for which the US is providing more than $40 million to Israel.”

Later this year, the first IAF F-35 stealth fighter jet — built by US defense contractor Lockheed Martin — will arrive in Israel. This, Shapiro said, “is the latest manifestation in a long history of Americans helping Israel defend itself with cutting-edge airborne platforms.” The F-35, he said, will “form the backbone of the Israel Air Force for the next generation, and will enable Israel to reinforce its deterrent power and maintain its legendary quick response capabilities when new threats emerge including state sponsors who support terrorist attacks against Israel.”

Turning to the 10-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) on security aid that is currently being finalized by American and Israeli negotiators, Shapiro quoted US National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who called it “the single largest military assistance package — with any country — in American history.”

On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that the US and Israel have completed their negotiations on the new MOU, but that the Obama administration was holding off on signing the deal due to the opposition of Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Graham, who heads the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, has reportedly put forward a bill that would give Israel $3.4 billion in security aid in 2017 — higher than the $3.1 billion agreed to by the White House.

“The Israeli prime minister told me the administration is refusing to sign the MOU until I agree to change my appropriation markup back to $3.1 billion,” Graham was quoted as saying by the Washington Post.  “I said, ‘Tell the administration to go F themselves.’”

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