Tel Aviv: The US House of Representatives on September 23 approved a stand-alone bill to provide Israel with $1 billion for replenishing the Iron Dome missile defence system, following two days of contentious debate within the Democratic Party.
The vote was passed with an overwhelming majority of 420 members voting in favour of the bill, and nine against. The bill is now headed to the Senate, which will need to approve it as well. The bill was approved after a first vote was against due to the opposition of some democrats.
The opposition of some of the democrats in the house in the first round of vote has again brought up the issue of the Israeli dependence on the US FMF funds for the acquisition of main fighting platforms.
In 2016, the US and Israeli governments signed their third 10 year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on military aid, covering FY2019 to FY2028. Under the terms of the MOU, the United States pledged to provide—subject to congressional appropriation—$38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in Foreign Military Financing grants plus $5 billion in missile defence).
While publicly Israel defines the vote as a “minor delay”, in private talks, the delay is defined as a big “Red Light”.
A senior Israeli defence expert said that the problem created by the opposition in the house is huge. “At least one year will pass from the approval of the special funding until the first Tamir interceptor comes out of the assembly line.”
The source said that according to open data, the Israeli air force used approx. 2000 Tamir interceptors during the recent Guardian of the Walls fighting. The Israeli ministry of defense was reluctant to comment. It may be noted that 50 % of the parts of the Tamir interceptor are made in the US and then sent the main facility of Rafael for final assembly.
The source said that the vote of the progressive section of the Democratic Party is a “very bad sign” especially as the special funding is aimed at a defensive systems. He added that assessment was that the funding will be approved after a delay but that means a delay in filling the stocks of the Tamir interceptors in Israel.
As to the rethinking of the FMF issue, the source said that Israel should gradually go out of this framework of FMF agreement. “The Israeli economy is strong and thus is capable of gradually base its defence procurement programs by itself.”
US President Joe Biden promised to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome batteries after the last round of fighting with Hamas in May, and again reassured when he met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Oval Office last month.
Shortly before the House Democrats’ decision, Biden told the UN General Assembly: “The commitment of the United States to Israel’s security is without question and our support for an independent Jewish state is unequivocal.”