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Tuesday, January 11, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Congress vows not to cut U.S. missile defense aid to Israel

WASHINGTON — The new Congress has pledged to maintain U.S. assistance to Israel's missile defense program.


Senior members of the House of Representatives said the new Congress would continue aid to several Israeli missile defense programs. They said the U.S. aid would include Israel's new anti-rocket system, Iron Dome.

"Israel has assisted in the security of the United States on literally thousands of occasions in nearly immeasurable ways since her birth and continues to be an even more essential partner with the U.S. in not only protecting our shared values and interests but the very national security of the United States," said Rep. Steve Rothman, a New Jersey Democrat and a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.

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"Since there has been a consistent and robust support for both joint U.S.-Israel military endeavors, research and development endeavors as well as support for Israeli programs such as the Iron Dome in the past, I fully expect there to be no break whatsoever in our strong support for the Jewish state and her military and intelligence needs."

In interviews with the Washington-based newspaper, The Hill, Rothman and other senior House members said federal budget cuts would not harm U.S. military aid to Israel, Middle East Newsline reported. They said Israel's Arrow-3 and Iron Dome would receive nearly $500 million in 2011.

"As we look at cuts we have to always look at national security and the security of our partners, which is our security, too," Rep. Kay Granger, a Texas Republican, said.

Ms. Granger, the new chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, said Iron Dome would help Israel counter the missile and rocket threat from the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah. She said Hizbullah has accumulated an arsenal of more than 45,000 missiles and rockets in Lebanon.

The House leaders said the new Congress regarded missile defense as a priority for U.S. foreign aid. The administration of President Barack Obama has allocated $442 million for Israel's Arrow and Iron Dome programs but the budget has been delayed for more than three months. Israel's BMD systems have received nearly $1 billion in U.S. aid over the last two years.

"There's just an urgent need in that area to continue the very strategic partnership we have with Israel," Ms. Granger said.

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