Bipartisan Group of Senators, Including Dem VP Nominee Kaine, Urges More Funding for Israeli Defense

The Daily TIP

July 26, 2016


A bipartisan group of senators has signed a public letter urging the Senate Armed Services Committee to include an additional $320 million for Israeli missile defense systems in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets the Pentagon’s annual budget. Nineteen Republicans and 17 Democrats, led by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), have so far signed onto the letter, which proposes that the Senate version of the bill should match the funding levels for Israeli defense included in the House’s bill. Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine (D-Va.) was among the senators who signed the letter, a stance in line with a March declaration by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton calling for the U.S. to bolster Israel’s missile defense. The House version of the NDAA voted to fully fund Israeli missile defense systems, including the Iron Dome, the Arrow, and David’s Sling. These systems would be co-produced in the United States, bringing economic benefits to the United States. Senators and Representatives are planning to combine the two bills to “produce a conference report to both chambers for approval before sending it to the president’s desk,” The Hill reported.

"These joint U.S.-Israel programs continue to yield critical defense capabilities that protect Israel from missile and rocket threats from as near as the Gaza Strip and Lebanon to as far as Iran,” the senators wrote. “As you know, investments over the years in U.S.-Israeli missile defense systems have saved the lives of countless civilians from indiscriminate rocket and missile attacks,” they added. During Israel’s 2014 war against the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, Iron Dome had a 90% success rate in intercepting rockets headed toward Israeli population centers, knocking down more than 600 rockets. Such missile defense systems are important in protecting Israeli infrastructure, which prevents military escalation and gives Israel options short of launching a ground invasion. “It took down about 85% of rockets that would have hit downtown Israeli cities and the fact that they couldn’t hit our cities gave us time, gave us space,” then-Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren recounted in an interview with MSNBC about the 2012 war with Hamas. “It actually not only saved Israeli lives, it saved Palestinian lives, because we didn’t have to operate on the ground. It gave us time to work out a ceasefire with then-Secretary of State Clinton.”