The White House announced that it is against giving Israel an additional $455 million in anti-missile defense aid on Tuesday. The declaration came in a letter to congress dealing with an Israeli request to increase funding for anti-missile defense systems in the Jewish state.
The letter to congress was six pages long and was sent following a congressional decision to increase Israeli military aid, and against the backdrop of tensions between the Obama administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a new and multi-year aid package.
The letter said that Obama's advisors may recommend that the president use his veto power if Congress passes the aid package increase.
In the section dealing specifically with Israel, the White House said that " furthermore, the Administration opposes the addition of $455 million above the FY 2017 Budget request for Israeli missile defense procurement and cooperative development programs "
The American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) expressed its concerns with the White House opposition to the increase in aid to Israel.
"We are disappointed in the White House's decision and criticism of Congress for funding US-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 US missile defense programs."
The Israeli request for funding anti-missile defense systems is an integral part of the multi-year aid request. It would mean the addition of several million dollars in aid every year, and would be incorporated into the $40 billion in aid Israel would like to receive from the US over the course of the next decade.
Israel has received several hundred million dollars worth of aid in order to fund the Iron Dome, Magic Wand, and Arrow 3 missile defense systems from the US congress. In fact, Congress approved an additional $600 million for these systems in 2015, a figure much higher than the initial $150 million which the Obama administration initially wanted to give.
This aid is not part of the MOU framework between the two countries which is due to end in two years, and Israel is requesting that this aid become part of that framework.
Officials noted that the US offered Israel between $3.4 and $3.7 billion in aid a year, as opposed to the $3.1 billion Israel receives today. However, the Administration says that if Israel doesn't go to Congress, the Administration will give Israel close to $4 billion a year.
This $4 billion aid package is conditional on Israel will only using the money to purchase US made military equipment, and that Israel using the aid money to buy Israeli made military equipment.