Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) welcomed a hike in defense assistance to Israel.
The Bush administration this week signed an agreement with Israel increasing its assistance from $2.4 billion a year to $3 billion a year over ten years. The assistance is part of a package that uses incentives to encourage multiple parties – the Palestinians, Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well as Israel – to move forward on Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Obama, a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said the assistance was necessary because Bush administration policies had endangered Israel. “The Administration’s failed policies in Iraq, in a war that never should have been authorized, have strengthened Iran and emboldened Hamas and Hezbollah,” he said in a statement Thursday. “That makes it more important than ever that the United States live up to its commitment to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in a dangerous region. For that reason, I support the agreement on military assistance reached today.”
Israeli leaders, who regard President Bush as a close friend, have questioned some aspects of the conduct of the Iraq war but worry that a U.S. withdrawal now would endanger Israel.