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Israel’s finance chief worries about sequestration effects

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s finance minister expressed concern that U.S. financial difficulties would affect Israel’s economy. 

"We are very worried about the financial difficulties in the U.S., and I hope they won’t hurt us," Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting. 

Steinitz’s comments came after Obama on Friday night ordered $85 billion in automatic, across-the-board cuts, called sequestration, after Congress failed to reach a compromise on deficit reduction.  

U.S. government agencies must cut $85 billion from their budgets through Oct. 1, much of it coming from the Defense Department. 

The cuts are sure to affect military aid from the United States to Israel, with estimates of cuts as high as $300 million, including affecting funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Participants in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference, which opened Sunday, are expected to lobby members of Congress during a visit to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to retain Israel’s $3.1 billion in military aid for 2013 and 2014, as well as some $211 million in additional funding for Iron Dome.

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