Defense Minister Benny Gantz praised the alliance between Israel and the United States hours after the top House Democrat on Appropriations introduced a bill that would provide Israel with $1 billion for the Iron Dome missile defense system.
“Our alliance with the United States is the product of deep ties between security establishments, which is based on shared security interests and above all, on common values. This is how it was and this is how it will remain,” he said during an event to mark the Sukkot holiday.
“From the south, north, and east, near and far, our enemies continue to try and harm us,” Gantz said, adding that “we must therefore continue to fortify our security, to deepen our alliances with the Jews of the Diaspora, and with the countries of the world, especially with our best friend, the United States.”
“Along with the strategic relations with various countries in the world, and with Diaspora Jewry, we must preserve the IDF as the strongest army in the region,” Gantz said.
Built by US defense contractor Ratheon Technologies and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the Iron Dome was developed with the financial help of the United States. According to a Congressional Research Service report released last year, the US has already provided more than $1.6 billion for Israel to develop and build the system.
Since it went into service in 2011, it has successfully intercepted over 2,500 rockets and other projectiles fired into Israel.
The US has consistently funded the Iron Dome to help Israel defend itself against rocket attacks from terror groups in Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon. Less than six months ago Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired close to 4,500 rockets and mortars at Israel during an eleven-day conflict dubbed ‘Guardian of the Walls’.
Following the fighting, Israel requested $1 billion in US aid to replenish its missile stocks, and President Joe Biden as well as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other administration officials agreed to the request.
But the funding efforts faced resistance, mainly from progressive Democrats who are demanding that the military aid that is given to Israel be conditions-based.
On Wednesday Foreign Minister Yair Lapid implied that the last-minute removal of the funding from the budget bill was due to the negative relationship that developed over the last decade between former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Democratic Party’s leadership.
Former defense minister and chief of staff Moshe (“Bogie”) Ya’alon also said the move won’t affect Israel’s military superiority, but it brings to light the deep divisions between the Democratic Party and Israel.
Those major divisions, Ya’alon said, were because of the behavior of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, actions that “severely harmed” Israel’s bipartisan status in Congress, and among American Jews who tend to vote for the Democratic Party.
The new government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has identified the loss of Jewish support as a major area of concern, and he is working to get that support back.
“It’s more a political issue because it brings out the issue that the Democrats are becoming more vocal on the issue of Israel,” Ya’alon said. “Netanyahu publicly supported the Republicans during the last election, and we are paying a price for it.”