President Obama signed a bill Friday that includes a provision to expand U.S. military assistance to Israel. The bill, which was introduced in May and approved by Congress this week, would have the U.S. provide additional support to the annual $3 billion for ten years that the U.S. is already committed to under the Memorandum of Understanding.
Congressman Steve Rothman (D-NJ), a member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, praised Obama’s decision to sign into law “the highest levels of funding for the joint US-Israel missile defense programs in our history.”
Despite a tough economic climate and expected U.S. budget cuts – including drastic cuts to the U.S. military budget – U.S. lawmakers will provide $236 million in fiscal 2012 for the Israeli development of three missile defense programs: “Arrow-2”, “David’s Sling”, and “Arrow-3” medium-range interceptor. Some representatives described U.S. military support for Israel as an investment in “life-saving projects” and U.S. national security, since short- and medium-range missiles are becoming a widespread problem. The Israelis also view the funds as an investment in a common project, rather than financial aid.
Palestinian aid is on the budget, too, for the Obama Administration sees Palestinian funding crucial for stability and for Israel’s security. However, funding is conditional upon the Palestinians putting an end to pursuing unilateral recognition at the United Nations. Israeli diplomats stressed that Israel supports aid to the Palestinians, but thanked lawmakers for temporarily freezing them in order to exert pressure on the Palestinians to return to negotiations.