barak Saltanov 248.88.
(photo credit: Defense Ministry [file])
Defense Minister Ehud Barak met Thursday with a delegation of US congressmen and urged them to help Israel secure funding for the development and production of the Arrow 3 ballistic missile defense system.
Israel is concerned that the US administration will cut the funding for the Arrow 3 in the context of the cuts Defense Secretary Robert Gates made to the US defense budget. Israel and the US have been jointly funding the development of the Arrow since its inception in the late 1980s. The Arrow is developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Boeing.
The congressional delegation was led by Nita Lowey from New York, who serves as the chairwoman of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee. While it is not Lowey's committee which approves the funding for the Arrow, she is influential on Capitol Hill in securing funding for weapons programs.
Barak gave Lowey a briefing on the recent successful interception tests conducted by the Arrow ballistic missile system and the Iron Dome system, under development to intercept short-range rockets.
Defense officials said they were confident that Lowey understood the need to continue funding and developing the Arrow 3, which will be capable of intercepting longer-range rockets at higher altitudes and farther away from Israel.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Thursday urged Lowey to ensure that the additional funds the United States is transferring to the Palestinians do not reach Hamas or other terrorist groups.
"We cannot allow these funds to reach the hands of the terrorists," Ayalon told her. "This is vital."
During the meeting, Ayalon also thanked Lowey for the extra funding for the Arrow missile project, saying, "The United States is Israel's strongest and most important ally."