US officials said this is the second consecutive year the Obama administration is cutting its support for the development of Israel's Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense program and the Arrow System Improvement Program.
According to the officials, in 2011 the administration requested $121.7 million in military aid for Israel’s major missile defense programs. That number dropped to $106.1 million in the 2012 budget proposal, and dropped again to $99.8 million in President Obama’s newly released 2013 budget proposal.
The Obama Administration’s 2012 budget request proposed $106 million for the missile defense cooperation program with Israel, but Congress more than doubled the administration’s request by authorizing a cooperative program with Israel at more than $216 million.
Israel has yet to issue an official response to Obama's budget proposal, but conservative elements in Washington criticized Obama for cutting the aid to Israel at a time when Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran are threatening the Jewish state.
Obama's budget proposal for 2013 also cuts funding for the US's ballistic missile program. The program's budget stands at $9.7 billion, down $700 million from last year.
Robert Hale, the Pentagon's comptroller, said "there could be other Middle Eastern countries that we hope will either step up themselves or we will have to slow down some of our actions to improve their missile defenses." He did not specify which ME countries the US provides military assistance to.
Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, lamented the funding trend. "For an administration which tried to claim that it’s the best for Israel’s security, cutting critical funds for missile defense at a time when the threat from Iran has never been greater is extremely dangerous, worrisome and reckless," he said.
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