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Congress wants to increase allocations to Israeli missile programs

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — Congress wants to at least double the Obama administration’s funding request for anti-missile cooperation with Israel.

Obama asked Congress for $99.9 million in 2013 for "Israel co-operative programs," which include programs like the long-range Arrow anti-missile system and the short-range David’s Sling.

The U.S. House of Representatives version of the National Defense Authorization Act, passed earlier this year, recommended adding $168 million to that request, and the Senate recommended adding $100 million in its own National Defense Authorization Act, passed last week.

A letter sent Wednesday by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) to the top senators on the Armed Services Committee urges them to agree to the higher House increase in the bicameral conference talks that finalize the act.

"As witnessed by the recent attacks on Israel from Gaza, the continued joint efforts of the United States and Israel in missile defense systems is critical to protecting this close U.S. ally and American interests in that region," the letter said. "The technology yields results that both of our militaries will utilize in our respective defense systems. U.S. funding is fully matched by that of Israel."

The bill separately authorizes new funding for Iron Dome, the short-range anti-missile system Israel used to deflect most rockets launched from the Gaza Strip during its recent conflict with Hamas.

The Senate recommends $420 million for Iron Dome, double the $210 million the Obama administration is expected to request, and the House recommended $680 million. Those amounts also will be reconciled in conference committee.

Funding for cooperation on missile programs like Arrow and David’s Sling is not considered assistance because it benefits U.S. as well as Israeli defense development. Iron Dome, however, is proprietary to Israel.

All these monies would be in addition to the $3.1 billion Israel receives annually in defense assistance.

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