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December 15, 2020 10:35 am

Congress Votes to Maintain Security Assistance to Israel

avatar by JNS.org

The US Capitol Building. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – The US Congress passed a $741 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2021 fiscal year last week that includes the continuation of American assistance to Israel for missile defense programs and other initiatives.

The Pentagon blueprint, which will need an appropriations bill to fund it, passed the US House of Representatives by a vote of 335-78, while the Senate passed it by a tally of 84-13.

The NDAA allocates $500 million towards missile defense systems in Israel, such as the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow 3, in accordance with the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, between the United States and Israel worth $38 billion over a decade.

Additionally, it extends authorization for the US War Reserve Stockpile in Israel through the 2025 fiscal year and authorizes an additional $200 million annually in stocks.

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The NDAA also lifts current limitations on the transfer of precision-guided munitions (PGMs) to Israel in an emergency and authorizes the president to exceed the current limitation of $200 million on the transfer of PGMs in a non-emergency setting under certain conditions.

Moreover, it authorizes the secretary of defense to establish a directed energy program with Israel.

The Pentagon blueprint also authorizes a total of $14 million for US-Israel cooperation in energy, water, agriculture, cyber and alternative-fuel technologies.

The NDAA also authorizes $6 million over the next three years to finance cooperative projects among the United States, Israel and developing countries.

Furthermore, it authorizes $12 million over the next three years for an initiative to enhance partnerships between US and Israeli companies to develop innovative medical projects primarily aimed at detecting, treating and curing COVID-19.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Christians United for Israel (CUFI) applauded the passage of the NDAA as it pertains to US assistance to Israel.

In a statement, AIPAC commended Congress “for including significant pro-Israel provisions” that “will help Israel protect itself against continuing security threats.”

“The final NDAA is a product of bipartisan cooperation and a wide range of groups coming together to advance common goals and enhance American national security interests. It is refreshing to see Congress set aside its partisan differences to advance this vital legislation. We strongly support this bill being signed into law,” said Sandra Parker, chairwoman of CUFI Action Fund, CUFI’s political arm, in a statement.

However, US President Donald Trump has threatened to veto the NDAA over renaming US military installations commemorating Confederate figures, in addition to the lack of a repeal of liability protections for social media giants and tech firms, known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The tallies of the passage in the House and Senate would be sufficient to get the two-thirds majority needed to override presidential vetos.

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