White House opposes increased funds for Israel’s missile defense program

Following extensive lobbying efforts, proposal submitted by Senate Appropriations Committee opposed by Obama Administration; AIPAC: “disappointed” cites Israel’s missile defense program as “an important contribution to US missile defense programs”

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The White House announced opposition to increasing aid for Israel’s missile defense program Tuesday, rejecting a congressional proposal made over a month ago.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget submitted an official letter to Congress on Tuesday opposing “the addition of $455 million above the FY 2017 Budget request for Israeli missile defense procurement and cooperative development programs”.

The House of Representatives submitted a proposal to provide Israel with $600 million in US funding for its defense missile program, a $455 million increase in government funding for the 2017 budget. Last month, the Senate Appropriations Committee submitted the proposal for the increased budget.

The request for increased funds comes following extensive lobbying efforts by the State of Israel and pro-Israel lobbyist groups, mainly AIPAC. Under the current memorandum of understanding between Israel and the United States signed in 2007, Israel receives a total of $30 billion in aid over a ten-year period set to expire in 2018.

In the letter submitted to Congress, the Obama Administration claims that “At a time when ISIL [ISIS] continues to threaten the homeland and our allies, the bill does not fully fund wartime operations. Instead the bill would redirect $16 billion of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds toward base budget programs that the Department of Defense (DOD) did not request, shortchanging funding for ongoing wartime operations midway through the year. Not only is this approach dangerous but it is also wasteful. The bill would buy excess force structure without the money to sustain it, effectively creating a hollow force structure that would undermine DOD’s efforts to restore readiness.”

AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, responded critically to the White House, stating “We are disappointed in the White House’s decision and criticism of Congress for funding US-Israel missile defense cooperation. These cooperative programs – including the Arrow, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome – are critical for Israel’s defense against a growing array of missile threats and make an important contribution to US missile defense programs. We applaud Congress for consistently supporting these key programs, and urge their full funding in both the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization and Appropriations Acts.”