WASHINGTON – US President Joe Biden emphasized his administration’s “full support” for replenishing Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system in his call with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the White House said Sunday.
“The leaders discussed the shared security and other challenges in the Middle East region, including the threat posed by Iran and its proxies,” according to a readout of the call. “The president thanked the prime minister for his invitation to visit Israel and said he looks forward to a visit later this year,” the White House said, adding that they had agreed their teams would remain in close consultation.
“The president underscored his commitment to expanding stability and partnerships across the Middle East region, as exemplified by the Abraham Accords, together with Israelis and Palestinians enjoying equal measures of security, freedom, and prosperity,” the statement said.
Biden and Bennett also discussed the recent US operation against the ISIS leader in northwestern Syria “and the ongoing US commitment to protect the American people and support the defense of its partners across the Middle East region.”
“President Biden conveyed his unwavering support for Israel’s security and freedom of action,” the statement said.
They also discussed the tension along the Russia-Ukraine border, the White House said.
The Iron Dome’s replenishment is expected to be back on the Senate agenda in the upcoming weeks. Last September, the House of Representatives approved a standalone bill to provide Israel with $1 billion for replenishing the anti-missile system. The vote passed with an overwhelming majority: 420 members supported the bill, and nine opposed it.
In the Senate, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) blocked several attempts to fast-track the bill by unanimous consent. Paul said while he supports the Iron Dome, he thinks “it should be paid for.”
“I think the American taxpayer dollars that pay for it should come from money that could go to the Taliban,” Paul said last October. He suggested taking the funds from some $6b. that was designated for the Afghan government. “That money, I think, could be spent on the Taliban, if we do not rescind that money.”