Former Israeli ambassador to US Michael Oren..
(photo credit: Hyungwon Kang / Reuters)
Jerusalem is working to salvage some of the military aid the US provides Israel,
after US President Barack Obama was forced to approve $85 billion in automatic
government budget cuts on Friday night.
These cuts are expected to shave
off up to $729 million annually from American aid to Israel, as well as funding
for missile-defense systems such as Iron Dome, Arrow and David’s
Obama formally ordered broad cuts in US government spending after
he and congressional Republicans failed to reach a deal to avert automatic
reductions that could dampen economic growth and curb military
“The Israeli Embassy still doesn’t know what will be the
extent of the sequester,” Ambassador to the US Michael Oren told Globes on
Friday. “The aid to Israel is included in the federal budget.
this budget is cut, so can the aid to Israel.”
“As the United States’
closest ally in the Middle East, Israel understands the complex budgetary
challenges the Americans face. We are ready to carry our share of the burden,
while trying to maintain the same projects that are essential to the security of
the State of Israel, among them the Iron Dome,” Oren added.
Israel “will continue to have discussions with the [American] administration and
with Congress to maintain the extent of the aid to security systems such as Iron
Oren did not specifically mention a possible cut in the annual
military aid to Israel, which is provided separately from the funding for the
missile- defense program. It is possible that Israel will focus its efforts on
saving the funding for the Iron Dome and possibly Arrow systems, at the expense
of the annual military aid.
Senior officials in the Foreign, Finance and
Defense ministries are working on a strategy to deal with the expected cuts. It
is possible that outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s quick February 13 visit
to the US, shortly after returning from a previous Washington visit, had to do
with the expected sequester.
The approved $85b. in automatic budget cuts
known as “sequestration” will dig into the US government’s spending, a move that
threatens to tip the country back into recession and send ripple effects
throughout the world.
The cuts, written into law alongside planned tax
hikes during a debt ceiling fight in 2011, were intended as an unpalatable
enforcement measure that became known as the “fiscal cliff,” which would force
Democrats and Republicans to hammer out a deficit reduction plan.
start of the year, the parties narrowly averted the cliff, settling on a tax
plan, but kicking the cuts down the road for two months to give themselves time
to find a solution. However, Obama and Congress failed to reach an agreement to
avert the cuts on Friday.
This report was translated from Hebrew by
Jerusalem Post staff.
Niv Elis and Reuters contributed to this report.