Israel will have access to American weapons systems and precision-guided munitions under new authorities granted by Congress in its annual defense spending bill, according to sources familiar with the legislation’s final text.
Congress extended the Defense Department’s authority to transfer weapons systems to Israel under the U.S. war reserves stockpile as part of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a sprawling 3,100-page budget bill that was finalized by House and Senate lawmakers on Wednesday evening.
The legislation contains a range of items meant to bolster Israel’s offensive and defensive capabilities as it faces down the Iran-backed Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip. The inclusion of these items is a signal that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are united in their desire to see Israel fully armed by the United States as it faces down its most significant terror threat in decades.
"Israel, our closest partner in the Middle East, is under attack by vicious terrorists," Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon. "The FY24 NDAA includes unprecedented levels of support for the security of Israel. The FY24 NDAA strengthens U.S. — Israel cooperation by extending the authority to provide Israel with precision-guided munitions and other weapons, increases funding for joint defense-related research and development, and expands military training with Israel."
In addition to weapons systems, Congress extended the Pentagon’s authority to send Israel precision-guided munitions, which are key to its delicate operations in the Gaza Strip that are meant to minimize civilian casualties while eradicating Hamas outposts. The Pentagon must also conduct an assessment of Israel’s precision-guided munitions needs to ensure the Jewish state continues to have the resources it needs.
Congress also authorized an additional $47.5 million above the Biden administration’s initial request to jumpstart joint U.S-Israeli research projects on cutting edge technology.
The bill seeks to upgrade Israel’s status as a major non-NATO ally by requiring the DOD to let the Jewish state participate in pilot training programs run by NATO allies, a move that will more fully integrate Israel into the international defense pact.
Another NDAA provision requires the Pentagon to assess the threat Israel faces from unmanned aerial systems, which are used by Iranian proxy groups in neighboring countries to conduct raids into Israeli territory. The United States and Israel will now jointly develop capabilities to mitigate these threats.
Congress also included provisions meant to bolster joint U.S. and Israeli military training exercises to boost deterrence and simulate operations that could be carried out against Iranian targets.