US House spending bill includes full $3.1 billion for Israel

Bill includes provision that would cut off funding to the PA should it seek to undermine the peace process.

US President Barack Obama (photo credit: REUTERS)
US President Barack Obama
(photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – The US House of Representatives passed a $1.1 trillion omnibus bill on Wednesday that included $3.1 billion in security assistance for Israel. The figures marked a restoration of funds back to levels not seen since the sequester on military spending in 2013, when all funding was automatically cut.

A 2007 memorandum committing the US to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge over its neighbors set US security support to the Jewish state at roughly $3b.
“The overwhelming passage of $3.1b. in Israel security assistance as part of the larger omnibus appropriations bill again demonstrates the bipartisan commitment to ensuring Israel’s security needs are fully met,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-New York), the ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Also in the bill is $268.7 million in funding for US-Israel cooperative anti-missile programs that is not considered assistance because Israel contributes to the programs, including Arrow, Arrow 2 and David’s Sling, Israel’s long- and medium-range missile defense systems.

In supporting the measure, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California) told the Post that restoring funding levels was about Israel’s unique security needs entering the new year.
“At a time of heightening threats from Iran and Syria, when Israel is seeking to make peace on its borders, now is the time to assure Israel’s security and its existence,” Waxman said.

The bill also links the approximately $400 million in assistance to the Palestinian Authority for programs against incitement and severs aid to the Palestinians should the PA seek to undermine the peace process with Israel by unilaterally seeking recognition of statehood at the United Nations.

In a statement, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee praised the bill’s passage and said it expected the Senate to follow suit later in the week.

JTA contributed to this report.