Recent accusations by senior Republican lawmakers that the Obama administration's new budget jeopardizes the national security of Israel do not address the entirety of U.S. financial support for the Israeli armed forces, a Saturday analysis by the Associated Press determined (see GSN, Feb. 16).
The Obama administration's fiscal 2013 budget proposal would provide $99.8 million for Israeli missile defense activities. That funding came under criticism last week by the Republican heads of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, who noted that it was lower than the $106.1 million requested by the White House for the current budget year. Congressional appropriators last year ultimately allocated $216 million for Israel's missile defense program.
In their opposition to the fiscal 2013 Israeli missile defense allocation, Representatives Howard McKeon (R-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) did not note that the administration has requested $3.1 billion it total military aid to Israel for the budget year that begins on Oct. 1. That figure is a small amount more than the $3.075 billion delivered in the fiscal 2012 budget.
Partisan politics ahead of the November presidential elections as well as growing concerns about possible attacks from Iran have led to even more hostile recriminations from Republicans against the White House.
"We are deeply concerned that at a time of rising threats to our strongest ally in the Middle East, the administration is requesting record-low support for this vital defense cooperation program," the lawmakers stated in a letter to Obama.
National Jewish Democratic Council President David Harris defended the administration's budget request against Republican attacks.
"We are truly through the looking glass here; only those with the most partisan ... agenda would view the largest military assistance package for any country in history at a difficult budgetary time as anything but a powerful way of supporting our closest ally, Israel," he said (Associated Press I/Washington Post, Feb. 18).
While Jerusalem has sought to significantly enhance its missile defenses, concerns persist about the effects of Iranian attacks that could follow an Israeli strike against the atomic operations of its longtime foe, AP reported.
Entities hostile to Israel are believed to have stockpiled roughly 200,000 missiles and rockets that could target the country. New, more advanced weapons could bring major Israeli urban areas within strike range, according to top officials.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has projected that an Iranian assault would result in no more than 500 Israeli casualties.
"Given the circumstances, we are more ready than in the past. But we still need to do so much more," said Uzi Rubin, a prior head of the Arrow antimissile initiative at the Israeli Defense Ministry (Associated Press II/USA Today, Feb. 20).
Recent accusations by senior Republican lawmakers that the Obama administration's new budget jeopardizes the national security of Israel do not address the entirety of U.S. financial support for the Israeli armed forces, a Saturday analysis by the Associated Press determined.