New legislation to increase technological cooperation between Israel, US

The legislation would enhance collaboration on the research and development of technology used for national defense.

The US Senate Session Chamber (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The US Senate Session Chamber
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
WASHINGTON – New bipartisan legislation aims to increase collaboration between Israel and the US in developing defense technology. US Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced the United States-Israel Military Capability Act of 2020 last week.
Peters and Cotton are both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Their legislation would enhance collaboration on the research and development of technology used for national defense.
The legislation requires the secretary of defense “to establish a working group that includes representatives from the United States Department of Defense, Department of State, intelligence community and their appropriate counterparts as selected by the Israeli government,” they said in a statement.
“The working group will evaluate shared security concerns and help forge combined plans to research, develop, procure and field military capabilities to address these threats,” the statement reads. “The working group may also seek input from American or Israeli defense manufacturers on how to integrate needed technology from the private sector.”
In February, the two senators sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, urging him to establish such a partnership.
“US defense cooperation with Israel is certainly already deep and broad,” they wrote. “However, despite laudable ongoing efforts, dangerous US military capability gaps continue to emerge that more systematic and institutionalized US-Israel early cooperative research and development could have prevented.”
Israel is the ideal partner for such an arrangement, they said, adding: “Israel represents America’s closest and most reliable ally in the Middle East. Israel also exhibits an innovation agility and sense of urgency that can help catalyze US defense programs. Not only does Israel possess one of the world’s most effective militaries, it is also a technology superpower.”
“As an ally, Israel has both a thriving defense innovation base and extensive real-world experience against modern security threats,” Peters said in the statement. “Improving existing cooperation in a systematic way will not only improve our response to national security threats, but save the lives of both American and Israeli service members and citizens.”
“For decades, robust defense cooperation has been a cornerstone of the US-Israel relationship,” Cotton said in the statement. “This legislation will further strengthen our cooperation in military research and development, helping to secure both the United States and Israel from emerging threats and ensuring that our war fighters maintain a decisive technological advancement over our foes.”
And while China is not mentioned in the bill, experts said it was introduced while the US is engaged in an intense military-technology competition with the Chinese Communist Party.
In an analysis in Defense News, Bradley Bowman, senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote: “The ability of US troops to deter and defeat great power authoritarian adversaries hangs in the balance. To win this competition, Washington must beef up its military cooperative research and development efforts with tech-savvy democratic allies. At the top of that list should be Israel.”


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