US approves $500M for missile defense aid to Israel

The Senate approved its annual defense budget, which includes $500 million earmarked for Israel’s missile defense.

By Batya Jerenberg,  World Israel News

The United States Senate approved its version of the annual defense spending bill Monday that included the $500 million promised to Israel each year for missile defense.

The money will go to help fund all levels of anti-missile production, from short- and medium-range (David’s Sling, Iron Dome) to intercontinental (Arrow 2 and 3).

In addition, Globes reported, $50 million was allocated for a joint program to combat the threat of terror tunnels that Hamas and other terror groups have been building in order to smuggle arms and infiltrate Israel.

This was the initial test of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that guaranteed Israel $3.8 billion a year for a decade, starting in fiscal year 2019, which begins this September.

In 2016, Israel and the US signed a $38 billion aid package, the vast majority of which is earmarked for Israeli procurement of US arms and technology.

The Israeli military technology industry has called on Israel to renegotiate the deal, which they say would hurt local industries by providing an incentive for Israel to procure instead of buy locally.

Under the terms of the MOU, Israel cannot ask for more aid. However, in “exceptional circumstances” – such as war – additional missile defense funding could be approved.

A bipartisan bill was introduced in March in the House of Representatives that would codify the MOU into law, making it harder for any future president to renege on the agreement. At the time, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Chris Coons, a Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said they considered the amount of $38 billion over 10 years a “floor” rather than a ceiling capping Israeli aid.

In last year’s defense appropriation bill, Israel received a total of $705 million for both Research and Development and procurement funding for its missile defense systems.

As reported in Globes, the new law also extends permission for five years for the storage of American weapons in Israel for emergency use. In addition, it calls for organizing a joint body to decide both how much and what kinds of “smart” ammunition Israel needs in order to fight the terror organizations on its borders.