Congress advances bill ensuring $38 billion in defense aid to Israel

A bill passed the House on Wednesday which, if signed into law, would protect a 10-year agreement ensuring Israeli aid from potential Congressional budgetary wars in the future.

By: Ariel Kahana, Erez Linn and Israel Hayom Staff/ and World Israel NEws Staff

A bipartisan bill that would cement U.S. military aid to Israel into law passed a major hurdle on Wednesday night.

The U.S. House of Representative approved the measure, known as the U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018, several weeks after it passed the Senate. It will now head back to the Senate for approval, after which it could be submitted to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.

Under the proposed legislation, the $38 billion in military aid over 10 years spelled out under the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding would be funded through a special mechanism that would be separate from the annual budget.

The bill would give Israel increased access to sophisticated U.S. technology to ensure it maintains its qualitative edge in the region through the U.S. war-reserve stockpile in Israel, which Israeli forces can use under certain conditions.

It also authorizes the president to bolster the stockpile with $1 billion worth of weaponry, as well as with precision-guided munitions to use against the Hezbollah terror group based in Lebanon. The bill further allows the president to establish a collaborative U.S.-Israel counter-drone program.

The law ensures that U.S. aid would not be cut as long as the memorandum comes into effect starting in 2019, ensuring that the funds would not be influenced by the budget wars between Congress and the White House. It also means that presidents would not be able to suspend U.S. aid as a means of pressuring Israel.

The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee praised the House for following in the Senate’s footsteps.

According to AIPAC, “This key legislation seeks to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself, by itself, against growing threats—most significantly Iran’s presence on its northern border. This bipartisan bill authorizes agreed-upon increases in Israel’s security assistance. It encourages expanding U.S. weapons stockpiles in Israel and advancing U.S.-Israel cooperation in anti-drone technologies and space.”