Speech: US to bolster Israel's security

Detractors suggest goal was to ease concerns among Jewish voters.

July 18, 2010 03:05
1 minute read.
THE IRON DOME system is designed to intercept shortrange rockets fired by Hamas from the Gaza Strip

Iron Dome 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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WASHINGTON – A senior State Department official on Friday delivered a special address on US efforts to bolster Israel’s security, underscoring support for the Iron Dome missile defense program shortly after a successful test of the system.

“The ever-evolving technology of war is making it harder to guarantee Israel’s security,” said Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political military affairs, in an address at the Brookings Institution.

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“Advances in rocket technology require new levels of US Israel cooperation.”

Shapiro spoke about American commitment to funding Israel’s Iron Dome and longer range Arrow missile-defense systems. Despite earlier concerns from the administration about the programs, the US has this year significantly increased its spending.

Shapiro, in a rare public appearance devoted entirely to US military support for Israel, stressed that the assistance secures America as well.

Helping to make Israel’s population more secure from the short-range rocket and missile threat its border towns face “is not only the right thing to do, but it is the type of strategic step that is good for Israel’s security and for the United States’ interests in the region,” he said.

Earlier this year, some had questioned whether the US had begun to see Israel as a strategic liability rather than an asset, based on comments from members of the administration, including President Barack Obama. Shapiro’s remarks seemed aimed at pushing back against such a view.

He also declared, “As surely as the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable, our commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge has never been greater.”

Some observers suggested that the speech was politically motivated, a further attempt to ease concerns among Jewish voters about Obama’s commitment to Israel.

At a State Department press briefing held later in the day, a reporter referred to Shapiro’s address as the “Obama Administration loves Israel; please vote Democratic in November” speech.

Shapiro, however, framed the issue as one of urgency given the increasing threats Israel faces in the region, particularly from Iran and its terrorist proxies Hamas and Hizbullah.

In this environment, he said, “We’re preserving Israel’s QME [qualitative military edge] through an unprecedented increase in US security assistance.”

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