Obama Admin Rejects Funding for Israel’s Security, Defense

Will not fully fund Israeli-U.S. missile defense

An Iron Dome air defense system in Ashkalon attempts to intercept a rocket fired from Gaza Strip / AP

The Obama administration is refusing to fully fund Israel’s security and defense, informing Congress in a letter on Tuesday it opposes efforts to provide the Jewish state with nearly $500 million for its top missile defense programs.

Congressional supporters of Israel expressed outrage at the administration’s move, telling the Washington Free Beacon that Israel needs this funding to help it combat terrorist forces and perfect missile system technology that it jointly shares with the United States.

The administration told lawmakers that it "opposes the addition of $455 million" in additional funding for Israeli missile defense projects in the fiscal year 2017 budget, which is working its way through Congress, according to a letter from the White House.

Israel requested $601 million in U.S. funding for missile defense programs that are jointly shared with the United States and help defend both countries. However, the Obama administration said it would only provide the Jewish state with $146 million.

The administration rejects ongoing efforts by lawmakers to fill the funding gap and provide Israel with full funding for these programs.

The administration’s stance has angered both Democratic and Republican supporters of the Jewish state, who maintain these programs are key to the defense and security of both Israel and America.

"It’s deeply disappointing to see the administration oppose congressional efforts to fully fund Israel’s request for U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense programs," Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), the author of legislation to fully fund these programs, said in a statement.

Israel needs these funds to help combat Iran’s massive investment in its own missile and defense programs following last summer’s nuclear agreement, which provided the Islamic Republic with a multi-billion dollar windfall.

"Israel faces growing missile threats, especially after the flawed nuclear deal gave Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime over $100 billion in sanctions relief and as Iran has accelerated testing of ballistic missiles capable of striking Israel," Kirk said.

One senior congressional aide familiar with the efforts to restore Israel’s full funding told the Free Beacon that the administration is not living up to its promises to help Israel defend itself from Iranian threats.

"The White House claims it's the most pro-Israel administration in history, yet it's objecting to a $455 million increase to meet requirements for Israel's missile cooperation with the United States while, at the same time, complaining we need to do more for Iran's terror-sponsoring regime because the nuclear deal's $100 billion in total sanctions relief isn't enough," the source said. "This doesn't add up."

A bipartisan group of 30 U.S. senators, including Kirk, spearheaded an effort in March to ensure that the U.S.-Israel security partnership remains robustly funded.

"Israel faces a range of threats in a dangerous and unstable region and providing this assistance for programs including Iron Dome and David’s Sling will ensure that our friend and ally can protect its citizens," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) said in a statement at the time. "I am glad so many of my colleagues joined Senator Kirk and me in supporting full funding for these joint programs that benefit not only Israeli security but U.S. national security as well through our co-production and technology development."

The senators maintained in the letter that these joint missile programs "continue to yield critical defense capabilities that protect Israel from missile and rocket threats from as near as the Gaza Strip and Lebanon to as far as Iran."

As lawmakers fight against the administration’s efforts to limit Israel’s funding, Iran announced it had spent $1.7 billion is funds awarded to it by the United States on its military.