On June 11, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen held the first-ever cabinet-level meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem since it was moved there from Tel Aviv last month. The embassy meeting with Israeli Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan preceded the International Homeland Security Forum, which was held the following day. The forum featured 20 ministers and vice ministers from 17 different countries, with a focus on counterterrorism and radicalization. Nielsen also joined representatives of the Israeli Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs and Public Security and Strategic Affairs as well as the Israel Defense Forces in discussing Israel’s security technology and operations. At the forum, Secretary Nielsen delivered remarks praising the “strong and enduring” alliance between the United States and Israel and asserting the need to “deepen cooperation” between the two allies. “Our alliance has been fortified through crises and strengthened by collaboration. Following the 9/11 attacks—the deadliest terror assault in modern world history—you were right there by our side,” she said.
On June 7, 11 members of the House Homeland Security Committee urged U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton to strengthen cybersecurity cooperation between the United States and Israel. Led by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), the congressional letter argues that “cybersecurity has emerged as a preeminent challenge and opportunity affecting the national security and economic stability of both nations.” The letter reiterates Congress’ longstanding support for U.S.-Israel cyber cooperation as demonstrated through initiatives including the recently-funded U.S.-Israel Center of Excellence, which will include research and development on the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure, the United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2017, the United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act of 2016, and the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014.
On June 25, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Israeli Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz inaugurated the first U.S.-Israel Center of Excellence in Energy, Engineering and Water. In a statement, the U.S. Department of Energy said that the center will work on developing innovative technologies for fossil energy, energy cybersecurity in critical infrastructure, energy storage and other means to both diversify supply and promote greater energy efficiency, among other related issues. “The partnership between our two countries has long advanced the cause of freedom, dignity, and peace and, as we are highlighting today, the joint quest for science and innovation,” Secretary Perry said at the signing.
On June 21, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill, which includes funding for U.S.-Israel Homeland Security (HLS) cooperation. Should the relevant provision make it to the president’s desk, Congress will have quadrupled its annual funding of U.S.-Israel non-defense programs in a period of just two years. The road to this unprecedented HLS funding began in 2014 when the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act authorized DHS to develop pilot programs with Israel. Following this, DHS initiated a three-year pilot with Israel’s Ministry of Public Safety (MOPS) that supported first-responder and wearable technologies collaboration. With the pilot now winding down, this year’s congressional funding will provide for the long-term viability and growth of the program, and enable its expansion into the areas of cybersecurity, border security, maritime security, biometrics and video analytics. The program is administered by the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation, with MOPS matching the U.S. funding. It provides grants to U.S. and Israeli institutions collaborating on the above-referenced emerging technologies, making both countries safer and developing ecosystems of bilateral partnership in areas of high security and economic importance.
During the first week of June, the Israel Defense Forces' C4i and Cyber Defense Directorate hosted its first international digital and cyber conference at the C4i Corps’ heritage site in Yehud. Approximately 70 foreign representatives joined the conference, including six generals and 16 colonels who specialize in cyber and military defense technology. Participating countries included the United States, South Korea, Austria, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, Rwanda, Japan, Hungary and Poland. “This conference brought dozens of representatives to Israel to discuss operational and technological challenges that all modern armies experiences or will experience in the future,” Brig. Gen. Yariv, Chief Signal Officer & J6/C4I & Cyber Defense Directorate Chief of Staff said. “We need to work together in order to protect ourselves better and to operate in synchronization.” The goal of the cyber conference was to share knowledge on information and communication technology development, technological challenges on the battlefield and how to respond to these challenges.
Type: Homeland Security Monitor