Obama Administration Threatens to Veto 2017 Defense Package to Israel

The Iron Dome system intercepts short-range missiles. [source: IDF, Wikicommons]

A six-page letter detailing the Obama administration’s objection to increased missile defense aid to Israel includes a warning that Obama may veto congressional measures for increased aid.

Both the Senate and the House approved a $455 million increase for Israel’s multi-layered anti-missile defense systems, which include the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and the Arrow 2 and 3.

In May, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to increase aid to the Jewish state’s missile defense program by four times what the Obama administration recommended.

The Senate proposed an increase of $113 million over last year’s aid package.

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act breaks down as follows:

•    $270 million toward R&D funding
•    $62 million to purchase additional Iron Dome anti-missile batteries
•    $150 million to maintain David’s Sling against medium-range projectiles
•    $120 million for the Arrow 3 system against longer-range missiles

It’s important to note the aid package requires Israel to purchase U.S. weapons, which raises the costs, The Daily Caller reported.

During Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, Iron Dome anti-missile batteries intercepted scores of rockets and missiles fired by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.  Along Israel’s northern border, Hezbollah has 130,000-plus missiles aimed at the Jewish state.

According to the Homeland Security News Wire, Hezbollah has a larger rocket and missile cache “than the combined arsenals of all the NATO countries, excluding those owned and deployed by the United States military branches,” the Conservative Base reported.

The American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) thanked Congress for its bipartisan support and expressed its deep disappointment in the administration’s response.

“On a bipartisan basis, Congress has increased funding above administration requests this year, as it has done for well over a decade,” AIPAC said in a statement.

“We are disappointed in the White House’s decision and criticism of Congress for funding U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation. These cooperative programs, including the Arrow, David’s Sling and Iron Dome, are critical for Israel’s defense against a growing array of missile threats and make an important contribution to U.S. missile defense programs,” the statement read.

The increased funds were designated to refine anti-missile systems against growing regional threats.

MK Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., tweeted, “Congress reflects the American people’s will and transcends administrations,” The Times of Israel reported.

And former presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tx, said the administration “zeroed” procurement for David’s Sling and the Arrow missile defense systems.

“This has been an ongoing partnership between Israel and the United States of America, and yet unfortunately, the Obama administration in its request submitted to Congress zeroed out the procurement for David’s Sling and Arrow 2 and 3, vital elements of Israeli missile defense,” Cruz said. “This is at a time when the threats are growing. The administration decided zero was the appropriate level.”

This article originally appeared on CBN News, June 15, 2016, and reposted with permission.