Securing U.S. funding to help restock Iron Dome, Gantz raised security concerns as the United States seeks a return to an Iran nuclear deal.
By Associated Press
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz sought a reaffirmation of U.S. security commitments to Israel on Thursday as the country weathers its greatest domestic political upheaval in years and the aftermath of last month’s war with Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
A key aim of Gantz’s visit to Washington is believed to be securing U.S. funding to help restock Israel’s Iron Dome, a sophisticated missile defense system that smacked down many of the rockets that Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel last month.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, appearing briefly with Gantz in front of reporters, said Americans also were talking to Gantz about getting aid to Gaza to help rebuild housing and services damaged and destroyed in the fighting, in addition to discussing Israeli security.
Gantz, whose other stops Thursday include a meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, said he also was raising security concerns about Iran, as the United States seeks a return to an Iran nuclear deal that Israel has long opposed.
The Biden administration pledged ongoing support for Iron Dome on the eve of Gantz’s visit.
“During the conflict we saw the Iron Dome system, which our nations developed together, save the lives of countless innocent civilians,” acting Assistant Secretary of State Joey Hood told the Israel Policy Forum, a New York-based research group.
President Joe Biden “is clear about this administration’s support for replenishing this system to support Israel’s ability to defend itself in the future,” Hood said.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, touring Israel this week in a show of support after the latest Gaza war, said he expected Israelis to seek up to $1 billion from the U.S. for Iron Dome, including for restocking the system’s interception missiles.
The U.S. partnership in Israel’s Iron Dome has wide bipartisan support in Congress, as does overall U.S. support for Israel’s defense, a tenet of U.S. foreign policy for decades. Last month’s war, however — the fiercest Israeli-Palestinian fighting since 2014 — has exposed a rift in Biden’s Democratic Party.