Members of Congress Praise New U.S.-Israel MOU
On Sept.14, the United States and Israel signed a new, historic 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which sets funding levels for U.S. security assistance to Israel for Fiscal Years 2019-2028.
The agreement pledges a total of $38 billion in aid to Israel—$33 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and $5 billion in joint missile defense funding—over a 10-year period.
“As I have said repeatedly, America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable,” said President Barack Obama. “The continued supply of the world’s most advanced weapons technology will ensure that Israel has the ability to defend itself from all manner of threats. For as long as the state of Israel has existed, the United States has been Israel’s greatest friend and partner, a fact underscored again today.”
“This agreement will ensure an unprecedented level of security assistance to Israel over the coming decade. This is the largest military assistance package that the United States has ever given to any country,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The agreement will assist us in continuing to build up our military strength and in continuing to improve our missile defense. This is of course a very important achievement for the State of Israel, and Israeli citizens can rightly be proud of it.”
Members of Congress from both parties have praised the new agreement.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said that the MOU “reasserts our nation’s robust commitment to Israel’s security and furthers the pursuit of our common interests.”
“That this Memorandum of Understanding includes $5 billion in support of missile defense systems is crucial. Those living in Israel’s border communities should not have to live in constant fear for their lives and those of their children,” said Rep. Hoyer. “It also includes $33 billion in foreign military financing over the next decade, representing a significant increase over the last Memorandum of Understanding. This financing will enable the Israeli Defense Forces to maintain its qualitative military edge and support aerospace and defense industry jobs for American workers.”
House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) said that the new MOU “advanced the security of both nations.”
“For nearly 70 years, the U.S.-Israel relationship has been based on shared values, mutual respect, and an enduring commitment to each nation’s security,” said Rep. Lowey. “Fostering and strengthening this relationship is our shared moral responsibility. This MOU—the largest bilateral aid package ever reached—builds on our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security by providing certainty with regard to our foreign military assistance and missile defense funding through this decade and beyond. Israel will be in a better position to address turmoil and instability in the region and therefore be able to better protect its citizens and secure its borders.”
House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) called the U.S.-Israel aid package “historic.”
“I am pleased that after a lot of hard work, our countries have agreed to an unprecedented 10-year military assistance package. This agreement is absolutely critical for Israel’s security,” said Rep. Granger. “Israel faces constant threats, including Iran, and the thousands of missiles Hezbollah has aimed at them. That is why I have been a champion for the Israeli missile defense systems. For the first time ever, this MOU includes funding for missile defense. This level of commitment to Israel’s security and her future will send a message to our adversaries in the region. Our countries share an enduring friendship and democratic values. We also face common adversaries. With this agreement, Israel’s enemies are again reminded the bond between our two countries is strong and unbreakable.”
Below is a list of statements from members of Congress in support of the new MOU.
House of Representatives
“I am very pleased that the Administration has finalized a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Israel that reasserts our nation’s robust commitment to Israel’s security and furthers the pursuit of our common interests. Never have Israel’s security needs been more stark —ISIL and other terrorist groups on Israel’s northern border; Hezbollah pointing hundreds of thousands of rockets towards Israel; Hamas using tunnels and missiles to threaten innocent civilians; and a theocratic regime emboldened in Tehran and committed to Israel’s destruction. This MOU communicates to Israel’s enemies that the United States stands firmly beside our ally, both because of our common values and our strong mutual interests.
“That this Memorandum of Understanding includes $5 billion in support of missile defense systems is crucial. Those living in Israel’s border communities should not have to live in constant fear for their lives and those of their children. It also includes $33 billion in foreign military financing over the next decade, representing a significant increase over the last Memorandum of Understanding. This financing will enable the Israeli Defense Forces to maintain its qualitative military edge and support aerospace and defense industry jobs for American workers.
“I’ve been proud to be a leader of the broad, bipartisan coalition in Congress in support of the strong U.S.-Israel relationship. I’ve partnered with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation enhancing economic and security ties with Israel and have traveled to the country more than a dozen times since coming to Congress to show support for Israel and its people in their struggle for security and peace. I join in thanking the President and his team who worked hard to reach this agreement, and I look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure that the United States always stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel and its people.”
“Today Iran’s leading terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, has thousands of missiles, rockets and mortars aimed at Israel. And the threat from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps is even worse. The United States must stand with Israel to help promote security and stability in the volatile Middle East. I am encouraged by reports of a new 10-year agreement, and look forward to reviewing the details.”
“I welcome news that the United States and Israel have agreed upon a long-term memorandum of understanding. Despite growing budget pressure, this MOU will provide Israel with the resources and certainty to effectively plan for its security needs over the next ten years. This is a worthy legacy for the Obama administration.
“As Israel faces worsening threats around the world, this MOU demonstrates that the United States will stand with Israel. No matter who is elected the next President of the United States, this MOU guarantees a robust level of security assistance and ensures Israel's qualitative military edge. I’m confident that support in Congress for this agreement—like support for Israel in general—will be strong and bipartisan.”
“Congress has once again demonstrated its leadership and commitment to ensuring that our friend and ally, the democratic Jewish State of Israel has the ability to defend itself and its people. Israel’s safety and security is a top foreign and national security priority for the U.S. Now that the MoU has been finalized, it is important for Congress to conduct its oversight authority and examine the MoU closely in order to ensure that this agreement is mutually beneficial and meets the needs of both the U.S. and Israel.”
"I welcome today’s signing of the new Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Israel. This ten-year, $38 billion agreement represents a long-term investment in the US-Israel relationship that will significantly deepen the cooperation and friendship between our two countries.
“This MOU will ensure Israel has the resources to defend herself against any and all threats by providing increased foreign military financing that will allow Israel to upgrade her strategic capabilities and preserve and enhance her qualitative military edge in the region. The $5 billion in missile defense funding will allow Israel to fully implement the multi-tier missile defense systems of Arrow 3 and David’s Sling. A strong and secure Israel is critical to protecting U.S. interests in a volatile region. As National Security Advisor Susan Rice said prior to today's signing, 'Our security is linked; when Israel is more secure, America is more secure.'
“Today's signing sends a clear and unmistakable message to the world that the United States and Israel stand unwaveringly together. I applaud the Obama Administration and the Netanyahu Government for reaching this landmark deal, and I look forward to working with my congressional colleagues to continue to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship."
“I am pleased the United States and Israel have agreed to a new Memorandum of Understanding on military assistance, extending a productive partnership that has ensured Israel’s continued qualitative military edge and advanced the security of both nations.
“For nearly 70 years, the U.S.-Israel relationship has been based on shared values, mutual respect, and an enduring commitment to each nation’s security. Fostering and strengthening this relationship is our shared moral responsibility. This MOU—the largest bilateral aid package ever reached—builds on our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security by providing certainty with regard to our foreign military assistance and missile defense funding through this decade and beyond. Israel will be in a better position to address turmoil and instability in the region and therefore be able to better protect its citizens and secure its borders.
“I congratulate the Obama Administration and the Netanyahu Administration on reaching this milestone agreement. As Ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee and its State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, I will do everything in my power to fully support and implement the new MOU. I will also work to ensure that the United States continues to be the greatest force against efforts to delegitimize Israel in the international community as well as the greatest advocate for a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians and recognition of Israel by all of her neighbors.”
“Today is a historic day in the United States—Israel partnership. Keeping the U.S. —Israel relationship strong is a top priority of mine and as Chairwoman of State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and Vice Chair of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I’ve worked tirelessly to ensure that the relationship is strong and Israel has what it needs from the U.S. to defend and protect itself.
“I am pleased that after a lot of hard work, our countries have agreed to an unprecedented 10-year military assistance package. This agreement is absolutely critical for Israel’s security.
“Israel faces constant threats, including Iran, and the thousands of missiles Hezbollah has aimed at them. That is why I have been a champion for the Israeli missile defense systems. For the first time ever, this MOU includes funding for missile defense. This level of commitment to Israel’s security and her future will send a message to our adversaries in the region.
“Our countries share an enduring friendship and democratic values. We also face common adversaries. With this agreement, Israel’s enemies are again reminded the bond between our two countries is strong and unbreakable.”
“As the only member of Illinois’ Congressional Delegation on the Armed Services Committee and a staunch advocate for Israel’s security and self-defense, I have always supported military aid for Israel and am proud to have voted in Congress to provide hundreds of millions in funding for missile defense programs like Iron Dome. Our relationship with Israel should not be up for debate and I’m very pleased the Administration has reached this agreement supporting the Israeli people and their security.
“Finalizing this new Memorandum of Understanding with our strongest Middle East ally is a positive step forward for both of our nations that shows the world the United States continues to stand fully behind Israel while reinforcing our shared values and interests. This agreement will significantly boost resources to help ensure that the Israeli democracy remains strong, stable and secure for years to come in the face of sustained threats from Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran and terrorists like ISIS.”
“Threats from all fronts jeopardize the safety of our greatest ally in the Middle East. This historic deal will provide Israel with the resources to defend itself while underscoring the United States’ unwavering friendship with the Jewish state.”
“I applaud the administrations of President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu for coming together to sign a new, historic 10-year agreement to extend our security partnership with Israel. This agreement reaffirms the United States’ commitment to strengthening Israel’s right to defend itself from unprecedented threats in an increasingly unstable and chaotic region. While it may not be 100 percent perfect, it indisputably represents the strongest and deepest commitment of support for Israel in United States history.
“I have been a strong supporter of security assistance to Israel for many years, and as a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, I will continue to fight for funding of cutting-edge military equipment and technologies to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge.
“The close relationship between the United States and Israel has never been more important to the security of both our countries, and I am pleased that this agreement further strengthens that bond.”
“Pleased to see the United States and Israel sign a new Memorandum of Understanding earlier today, further solidifying our commitment to the security of our greatest ally in the Middle East. The MOU is the largest U.S. aid package in history and it will make sure that despite the tremendous threats facing Israel, she can defend herself and remain secure. I was proud to cosponsor a bipartisan resolution supporting this MOU, which was passed by the House yesterday. Our two nations will continue to stand strong together.”
“I applaud the Administration for finalizing an unprecedented agreement that will provide the government of Israel with a total of $3.8 billion a year in security assistance over the next decade. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) represents the most aid the United States has ever provided to any country.
“This agreement sends a powerful message that the United States will not stand idly by if Israel is threatened. I met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem earlier this year and never before have Israel’s security needs been greater. Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East and is under constant threat from groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and ISIS.
“The MOU includes $5 billion to support missile defense to ensure Israel can defend itself against a wide range of threats like rocket attacks fired on civilians. It also includes $33 billion in foreign military financing, which will support American jobs in the aerospace and defense industries.
“I look forward to leveraging my role on the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee to make sure these funds are appropriated and Israel gets the assistance it needs to stay safe. There has never been a day where I doubted the need to protect Israel, the incredible value Israel poses as an ally in the Middle East or the need to work together to combat common threats.”
Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)
“Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada’s First Congressional District was pleased to actively support the U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) announced today between the United States and Israel which, subject to annual congressional approval, will provide $38 billion in U.S. security assistance to Israel over 10 years starting in fiscal year 2019. This historic MOU will also incorporate joint missile defense funding, which will provide Israel a stable planning environment to counter mounting threats. This MOU represents the largest U.S. aid package ever.”
“The signing of this new Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Israel is a significant and historic achievement for our two nations. It will extend our robust partnership with Israel, and ensure the Jewish state’s continued quantitative military advantage which is critical in a region with too many hostile actors who wish to destroy her. I am pleased that the new MOU is the largest bilateral aid package ever agreed upon which underscores our nation’s unwavering commitment to Israel.
“As the first Jewish woman to ever represent Florida in Congress, and a Member of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, my commitment to Israel’s long-term security is unyielding, and I am proud that this MOU reflects that commitment by providing not only foreign military assistance but also missile defense funding for the first time ever. With this sustained missile defense funding, Israel will have the resources and weapons required to defend herself for years to come.
“I congratulate President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as the Israeli and American people on this historic agreement that helps secure both of our nations into the future, and reaffirms our strong and enduring friendship.”
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
“Pleased the Obama admin & Israelis will sign new robust 10 year MOU tomorrow. I sent a letter calling for this in April.”
“This historic military aid agreement—the largest ever—helps assure that Israel remains secure and stable in an increasingly dangerous neighborhood. Our support for Israel is clear and unquestionable.”
“This agreement helps ensure that Israel’s military superiority—its qualitative edge—will be unchallengeable. The goal should be that Israel as a vital ally and partner has both strategic and tactical resources to defeat any aggressor. The agreement must be regarded by Congress as a floor, not a ceiling—and should be supplemented by additional support year to year. I will continue fighting to ensure that Congress provides necessary support to this vital ally—which serves above all the national interests and strategic military goals of the United States.”
“I congratulate the Obama Administration for finalizing a new, enhanced Memorandum of Understanding on military assistance with our vital ally, Israel,” said Senator Coons. “The agreement, the largest U.S. aid package ever, will include $38 billion in assistance to Israel over a decade. It includes $5 billion in missile defense funding—the first multi-year missile defense commitment in U.S. history—which will allow Israel to both modernize its military and conduct long-term planning to counter rising threats to its security. The MOU signed today represents the continuation of America’s seven-decade, unshakeable, bipartisan commitment to Israel’s security.
“In the months and years to come, Congress must remain clear-eyed about regional threats as we work with Israel to vigorously enforce the nuclear deal with Iran and push back against Iranian subversion in the Middle East. The Iranian government continues to propagate anti-Semitism and call for the destruction of Israel. It continues to build its military arsenal, conduct illegal ballistic missile tests, and support terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah that directly threaten Israel’s security. It continues to prop up the murderous Assad regime, prolonging the Syrian civil war, and creating power vacuums that have led to the rise of extremist groups like the so-called Islamic State.
“The MOU will help secure Israel in the midst of regional instability. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I look forward to supporting and implementing the new MOU and to working with Israel to confront the threats it faces and ensure its security for the next decade and beyond.”
“This agreement sends an important signal about our long-term commitment to Israel. While it is ultimately up to Congress to decide the level of appropriation, I am very pleased the military aid package has been successfully completed.”
“This agreement further strengthens the unbreakable bond between Israel and the United States. Our security partnership and this critical agreement will continue to advance our shared security interests, helping to protect Israel as well as our troops in the Middle East.”
“I am very pleased that the Obama Administration and the Netanyahu government are signing this agreement today. The agreement represents our commitment to Israel and to the security of all Israelis, and I was proud to join my colleagues in urging the Administration to come to an agreement as quickly as possible. Israel should have all the resources necessary to protect its citizens from the range of threats it faces in a dangerous region, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that Israel has the resources and support it needs in the future.”
“After regular engagement with the Administration and Israeli government on this issue, I am pleased that an agreement has been reached to provide Israel with an unprecedented level of U.S. military assistance in a consistent manner over the next decade. The United States maintains an unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, its people and its future, and this deal is a tangible sign of our support to our strongest regional ally. I particularly applaud this deal for providing Israel the first-ever multi-year missile defense assurance made by the United States to protect it and its citizens from attacks by terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and threats from Iran.”
“As our strongest ally in the Middle East, Israel’s security is a top priority of mine and a major driver of the work I do each day in the Senate. The new military assistance deal announced today is a leap forward for Israel’s security and a reminder of the strength and durability of our partnership. The U.S. must do all we can to keep Israel safe. I’m pleased with the Memorandum of Understanding, and will continue working to ensure our government and military remain strong partners of the state of Israel.
“I continue to believe that our two nations’ interests, fates and values are inextricably linked in today’s dangerous world. Our national security depends on having a strong and secure Israel as a democratic ally in a turbulent part of the world. And the safety and security of Israel depend on steadfast American support. With Hezbollah and Hamas continuing to pose a dangerous threat to Israel’s national security, American support for Israel has never been so important.”
“The safety and security of Israel is in the national security interests of the United States, which is why I applaud the new long-term security assistance Memorandum of Understanding agreed upon today. Israel is America’s strongest ally and a stalwart of democracy in a very troubled region.
“When I met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Rivlin, and other Israeli government officials in Israel earlier this year, they underscored the importance of U.S. security assistance and the need to complete this new agreement.
“This agreement will provide Israel with the means to defend itself by itself—maintaining its qualitative military edge, serving as a deterrent to regional adversaries, and funding missile defense capabilities to counter rocket attacks.
“The agreement will increase security assistance to Israel from $3.1 billion to $3.8 billion per year. As the largest military aid package provided to any country in U.S. history, this agreement reflects the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and our unwavering commitment to the Jewish state.”
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
“Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable and I welcome this new agreement to strengthen the defenses of our friend and ally.”
U.S., Israeli Defense Chiefs Discuss Cooperation on Iran and Regional Issues
On Sept. 7, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman met on the sidelines of a U.N. Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial in London to discuss Iran and other Middle East security issues.
Secretary Carter “reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Israel's qualitative military edge and to strong U.S.-Israel defense relations,” said a Pentagon spokesperson during a readout of the meeting. “The secretary and minister discussed regional security challenges in the Middle East including the ISIL threat, Iran, ways to expand and accelerate cyber coordination, as well as other areas of mutual defense cooperation.”
Carter and Liberman last met in June 2016, when Liberman traveled to the United States to accept delivery of Israel’s first of 33 cutting-edge F-35A fighter jets.
Israel Participates in International Joint Aerial Combat Exercise with the United States
On Aug. 15, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) joined the three-week Red Flag aerial combat simulation hosted by the United States at Nevada’s Nellis Air Force Base. This year marks the second consecutive year the Jewish state is participating in the exercise.
The IAF sent F-16I “Sufa” (Storm) fighter jets to take part in the simulation. Israeli pilots flew alongside their counterparts from various countries around the world, including those from the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan—two countries with which Israel does not have official diplomatic relations.
“The air force trains regularly in Israel and abroad in order to maintain operational fitness for various operational plans. The Red Flag exercise involves unique and high-quality training. When the IAF was invited to participate, it accepted the invitation,” said an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson.
The Red Flag training exercise employs fighter jets in advanced aerial combat simulations. Participating squadrons are assigned to two teams—red and blue. They practice intercepting “enemy” aircraft, attacking targets, saving teammates and engaging in aerial maneuvers under the risk of surface-to-air missiles.
“The Red Flag is the biggest and best simulation of war in the world,” said one IAF officer at the end of the 2015 exercise.
House Panel Explores Strengthening U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation
On Sept. 8, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Energy held a joint hearing highlighting U.S.-Israel energy cooperation.
Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs at the Department of State Amos Hochstein, and Assistant Secretary for International Affairs at the Department of Energy (DOE), Jonathan Elkind, testified at the hearing.
Elkind emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Israel energy relationship, highlighting a number of collaborative mechanisms between the two countries, specifically the new Memorandum of Understanding between DOE and Israel, the robust U.S.-Israel Energy Dialogue and the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation’s Energy arm that facilitates private sector collaboration between the countries in the pursuit of new energy technologies.
“Our most robust relationship in the eastern Mediterranean region is with Israel and its Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources (MIEW), an important friend and ally to the United States,” Elkind stressed.
Amos Hochstein, meanwhile, highlighted the tremendous opportunity inherent to Israel’s natural gas finds as a tool for regional diplomacy, and discussed the broader role of Eastern Mediterranean gas as a geopolitical benefit to the United States.
In her opening statement, Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) noted that “[t]he United States has a vested interest in seeing these projects in the Eastern Mediterranean come to fruition in order to bolster our partners in the region but to also bolster our own national security interests.”
Members of Congress Denounce Reported Secret JCPOA Concessions to Iran
On September 1, Reuters reported that Iran was secretly allowed to evade certain restrictions in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) so that it could begin receiving sanctions relief.
This latest development follows earlier reports that Iran exceeded its quota for heavy water production, and failed to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with unencumbered access during its investigation into the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran's nuclear program.
Leading lawmakers have raised concerns with the reported secret concessions to Iran.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) responded on social media to the revelation, stating, “The Obama Administration was wrong to give Iran secret concessions on the nuke deal. It only emboldens them.”
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, denounced the reported concessions.
“While Iran continues to support terrorism, challenge the United States, and engage in malign activities throughout the region, the Obama administration has enabled Iran to evade limits on their nuclear program. Rather than concealing information from the American people, the administration should explain why it believes it is in the national security interests of the American people to help the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism dodge limitations on its nuclear program,” said Ayotte.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) stated, “The White House keeps hiding the truth about Iran from the American people. It's no surprise the Administration is allowing Iran to violate the flawed nuclear deal given that it secretly orchestrated the transfer of potentially billions in foreign cash to Iran and is turning a blind eye to Iran’s missile launches and procurement, all while Iran increases support for Hezbollah terrorists and the brutal Assad regime.”
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) called the news reports “deplorable.”
“As additional reports surface about the true nature of the Iran Deal, it is evident that the Administration cut corners to provide Iran with special concessions that the terrorist mullah regime did not deserve,” said Curbelo. “This deal sets a dangerous precedent for future negotiations with other countries. The Administration should come clean and admit to the American people that the JCPOA is not much more than a major giveaway to an anti-American, terrorist government.”
The White House said it took “significant exception” to the allegations, saying that the easing of sanctions was always dependent upon Iran's adherence to the agreement.
United States Expresses ‘Concern’ Over Iran’s Deployment of Advanced Missile Defense System to Fordow Nuclear Facility
The United States raised concern over recent reports that Iran has deployed its recently acquired Russian-made S-300 advanced surface-to-air missile defense system battery to the underground Fordow nuclear facility.
“We’ve seen the reports of this deployment. Obviously, that’s of concern to us because we have long objected to the sale of Iran—of these kinds of capabilities,” said State Department Spokesman John Kirby in a press briefing.
Kirby also emphasized that the U.S. will “stay in close consultation” with its allies regarding the deployment of the battery.
On Aug. 28, Iranian state television revealed footage of an S-300 carrier truck in Fordow lifting its missile launchers into the air. According to the report, the battery was deployed to protect the secretive nuclear site from attack. The sophisticated defense system provides long-range protection against both aircraft and missiles.
Russia delivered the first S-300 shipment to Iran earlier this year and will send the remaining components by the end of 2016.
"Our main priority is to protect Iran's nuclear facilities under any circumstances," Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ air defense force, told Iranian media. “Today, Iran’s sky is one of the most secure in the Middle East.”
Members of Congress have also spoken out against the deployment of the missile defense system to Fordow.
“By allowing Iran to get destabilizing advanced S-300 missiles at Fordow, the Administration is making it harder to stop Iran from eventually getting nuclear weapons,” said Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL).
In an Aug. 29 press statement, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said that the recent reports are a “clear indication of Iran’s intent to preserve its ability to build a nuclear weapon.”
House Advances Two U.S.-Israel Cyber Bills
On Sept. 13, the House Homeland Security Committee advanced two bills aimed at deepening cyber cooperation between the United States and Israel.
The United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act of 2016, introduced by Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity John Ratcliffe (R-TX), amends previous legislation to extend U.S.-Israel homeland security research and antiterrorism programs to include cybersecurity. The bill would foster cooperation between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Israeli Ministry of Public Security to develop solutions to the growing challenges in cybersecurity.
The second bill, the United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2016, introduced by Rep. James Langevin (D-RI), proposes a cybersecurity grant program at the Department of Homeland Security to promote joint U.S.-Israel R&D projects. The criteria for grants will be determined jointly by the Secretary of Homeland Security and an advisory panel comprised of members from previous successful U.S.-Israel partnerships, such as the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation.
The two bills were inspired by a trip Reps. Ratcliffe and Langevin took to Israel earlier this year. According to Rep. Ratcliffe, the advancement takes “us one step closer toward establishing new levels of cybersecurity collaboration with our strongest and most trusted ally in the Middle East.”
Senate Advances Water Bill with Key U.S.-Israel Provisions
On Sept. 15, the Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA) by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 95-3. The bill authorizes 25 critical U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects in 17 states, and includes three provisions to advance the U.S.-Israel water relationship—in testament to Israel’s global leadership in the management of water resources and technology development.
If enacted, WRDA would restructure a federal grant program created by the Water Desalination Act of 1996, creating a provision that would prioritize potential grantees who demonstrably leverage the experience of Israel in desalination.
The bill would also require the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a coordinated strategic plan with certain allies, specifically Israel, for the development of new water technologies.
Finally, it would authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to engage in technology transfer and R&D with Israel for the purpose of the development of water resources.
The bipartisan legislation was championed by Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee James Inhofe (R-OK) and the Committee’s Ranking Member Barbara Boxer (D-CA). The House of Representatives is now preparing for consideration of WRDA.
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