US Congress approves $170m. Israel aid increase

Saudi Arabia, Egypt get millions.

congress 88 (photo credit: )
congress 88
(photo credit: )
The US Congress has approved a $170 million increase in security assistance to Israel as part of its new 10-year, $30 billion defense aid commitment. The money is part of a supplemental spending bill that includes $162b. for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The legislation gained final approval in a 92:6 Senate vote late Thursday. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee welcomed the move, saying it would increase US aid to Israel to $2.55b. in fiscal 2009, up from $2.38b. in 2008. "The US commitment to maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge is the cornerstone of American policy in the region," AIPAC said in a statement. "This year's package holds heightened significance for US security interests, as the US and Israel face new challenges from Iran's drive to acquire nuclear weapons as well as the growing influence of radical anti-Western forces... in Gaza and Lebanon." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the aid as part of a new military pact with US allies in the Middle East in a bid to "counter the negative influences" of al-Qaida, Hizbullah, Iran and Syria. The aid includes $20b. in weapons for Saudi Arabia, $13b. for Egypt, and arms deals reportedly worth at least $20b. for other Gulf states.